WILLIAMS BAY — It is no secret that Big Foot/Williams Bay’s soccer team has high expectations for this year’s playoffs.
After a first-round win and a close 4-2 loss to New Berlin West in the second round last season, this year’s squad is looking to make it further.
Over the past week, the ChiefDogs got a taste of what will be in store if they advance in the postseason, with three games against some of the top teams in the area.
The game with the most at stake came on May 11 when McFarland traveled to Williams Bay for a match that had big implications for the Rock Valley Conference title. When the visiting Spartans came away with a 4-1 victory, it all but assured them of the Rock Valley crown.
Early in the game, McFarland showed why it has been ranked in the top 10 in the state all season, with senior Alexa Hettiger scoring three goals in the first 17 minutes.
During that stretch, the usually explosive ChiefDogs were playing defensive to try to counteract the Spartans. But the home team was not at its best.
“They’re very good offensively, so we decided to go a little more defensive. We gave up three easy goals, but then after that, I think we woke up,” head coach Rene Perez said.
Once they found themselves down three goals, Big Foot/Williams Bay’s players started playing more aggressively, and the team looked much stronger for it. While they were not able to score enough to win, the ChiefDogs kept the ball in the McFarland zone for much of the remainder of the game, and had plenty of good opportunities.
The only opportunity that found its way to the back of the net came in the 39th minute when senior Abby Peterson took a free kick that McFarland goalkeeper Katie Hildebrandt knocked away, only for BFWB junior Hannah Palmer to score on the rebound to make it 3-1.
Throughout the second half, the ChiefDogs consistently had the ball near the Spartans’ goal. But a combination of shots missing the mark and nice saves by Hildebrandt kept the score 3-1 despite Big Foot/Williams Bay’s best efforts.
“We could’ve tied it up or maybe gone up 4-3, but it just comes down to finishing,” Perez said. “It comes down to putting it in, and at the end of the game, we didn’t.”
With just four minutes left on the clock, Hettiger scored her fourth goal of the game to ice any chance of a ChiefDogs comeback.
McFarland wasn’t the only top team Big Foot/Williams Bay played, though, as they took on New Berlin West on May 10. The Vikings ended the ChiefDogs’ season 4-2 in the 2018 playoffs, and in the 2019 regular season they picked up a 2-0 win over BFWB.
Senior Gracelyn Bender scored three minutes before halftime, and senior Hannah Kroupa scored two minutes after halftime to provide the Vikings with the win.
After a pair of tough games over the weekend, the ChiefDogs traveled to Evansville on May 13 for another game against a quality opponent. The game offered a chance at revenge for a 2-1 loss at the hands of the Blue Devils earlier this season.
Big Foot/Williams Bay was not able to capitalize on that chance, though, falling 2-0 to the Blue Devils. Junior Abby Eftemoff and sophomore Taylor Acker scored for Evansville.