Badgers blanket Big Foot in Rock/Lakes challenge
April 20, 2011 | 08:37 AMWalworth — After starting the season with two losses, the Badger girls soccer squad is righting its ship.
Saturday at Big Foot at the Rock Valley/Southern Lakes challenge, despite some bizarre weather conditions, the Badgers picked up shutout victories over Big Foot and East Troy. Badger (4-2 overall) has now won four straight games, including shutouts in its last three. Ross Fowler is proud of his team.
"The girls are really buying into our style," he said. "They are possessing the ball and finishing opportunities. And freshman goalie Autumn Mikrut, for never playing goalie before, has been outstanding. She is playing with a lot of confidence."
Badger opened up play Saturday with a tilt against its neighbor down Highway B, host Big Foot.
Despite misty conditions, Badger scored early and held on for a 1-0 win. In a morning game played with the lights on, Badger junior Emma Kopp scored an unassisted goal in the 11th minute for the game's only score. It was Kopp's fourth goal of the season. Fowler was impressed with his team's performance.
"We really took a step up," he said. "We played well as a team and passed really well. I was really impressed with Big Foot. They have a good team and have some talented players."
Big Foot coach Annie Isham, whose team dropped to 2-1-1 with the loss, said the conditions were strange.
"It was brutally sleeting and snowing most of the day," she said. "It wasn't the most pleasant soccer day I've ever had. We came out very flat and were not going to the ball hard. They got a goal off a defensive breakdown. We didn't capitalize on scoring opportunities. We were attacking well but didn't finish."
Big Foot was without one of its leading midfielders, Stephanie Tadje. Despite the loss, Isham enjoyed playing Badger.
"It was cool to face them," she said. "Ross is a good coach and a great guy. It is a friendly rivalry."
In the second half, Badger was able to hold off Big Foot for the victory. Fowler commended his girls for keeping focus.
"We played good defense and shut them down in the second half," he said. "We have been building off our wins. We have made great strides, and we don't want to take a step back. Sam Reynolds and Traci Mulligan both played really well against Big Foot."
Katie Pearce snatched seven saves for Big Foot. Mikrut had two for Badger.
Badger had no problem in its second match with East Troy, earning a 2-0 victory. Fowler said it was sleeting and the visibility was low in the contest.
"They were not good conditions for soccer," he said.
But the weather couldn't stop Badger's momentum. Quinn Wessels opened up the scoring with an unassisted goal in the 20th minute. In the second half (teams played 30-minute halves), Kopp scored on an assist from Alex Swarthout in the 32nd minute. It's was Kopp's team-leading fifth goal of the young season.
Fowler said his girls made it hard for East Troy to get anything going.
"We were really dominant defensively," he said. "We really controlled possession. We stopped them from getting shots on goal. We knocked the ball back to our defenders and got them involved. We played very patient."
Badger had 11 shots on goal to only one for East Troy.
Badger travels to regional rival Racine Case Thursday.
"It will be a good measuring stick to see where we need to be," Fowler said.
Lady Chiefs earn two victories
In Big Foot's other action Saturday, the Chiefs downed Waterford 3-2 in a shootout after ending regulation in a 1-1 tie.
Big Foot is now 3-1-1 overall.
Schyler Isham kicked the winning goal in the shootout. Also, Pearce came up with two big saves in the shootout to save the victory.
"That's huge for a goalie," coach Isham said. "One save was a full-out dive to the side. The girls were very excited."
Big Foot got on the board with a first-half goal from Ellie Michaels, assisted by Schyler Isham. Waterford came back with a second-half goal to send the game to a shootout. Coach Isham credited her squad's defense.
"We played well and controlled the game," coach Isham said. "Our midfielders played very well, but we need better finishing with our opportunities. Our defense was solid."
Last Thursday, Big Foot shut out Jefferson at home, 2-0.
Tadje opened the scoring with a goal in the 18th minute, then she assisted an Alex Martin tally in the 24th minute. Coach Isham thought her team missed some opportunities.
"We controlled the game, but we just didn't finish again," she said. "We were shooting the ball wide or long a lot. We must continue working on our shooting."
Overall, coach Isham is pleased with the team's solid start.
"I didn't expect this fast start," she said. "We are still playing with some formations."
Big Foot travels to East Troy Thursday. Isham expects a win and added her team should be at full strength.