Pirates bounce back in big way
Bay Port’s McKenzie Johnson takes a shot in the first half during the Pirates’ 4-0 victory over Appleton North May 5 (Rich Palzewic photo).
BY RICH PALZEWIC
SUAMICO – An unexpected loss earlier this week might actually turn out to be a good thing for the Bay Port girls’ soccer team.
The Pirates, who entered this past week as the No. 2 ranked team in the state, lost a 1-0 game to Sheboygan North May 1, but have since rebounded by outscoring their opponents 13-1 in the last two games.
The latest victory was a 4-0 non-conference blanking of Appleton North May 5 at the high school.
Erin Ross, Sofia Draghicchio, Emma Nagel and Erika Hess each tallied a goal to help the Pirates improve to 9-1 overall on the season.
“Overall it was a very good effort by our team,” said head coach Brooke Mraz. “We played a complete game after we regrouped from the Sheboygan loss. Against a good Appleton North team – who is only going to get better as the season progresses – we moved the ball well and spread the field wide. We used our defense and didn’t force the ball forward – this is what it should look like. We just keep stressing that every day we need to get better as individuals and as a team.”
Ross’ left-footed boot from 18-yards out snuck in the top-right corner of the net in the 24th minute to give the Pirates a 1-0 lead, before Draghicchio’s 30-yard “moon ball” crept in over a leaping Lightning keeper nine minutes later.
Nagel scored two minutes into the second half on a mini-breakaway, while Hess – who also had three assists in the game – scored her 19th goal of the season with five minutes left to close the scoring.
Mraz also pointed out the strong defensive play of junior Grace Krause, who celebrated her 17th birthday the day before.
“Our plan was that No. 7 for Appleton North (Brynn Desens) was a very good player, so with our pressure-contain defense, we were able to send a lot of balls back out and not let them get very many shots,” said Krause.
Krause has been a part of a defensive unit that has given up just six goals all season. In comparison, Bay Port has put 46 goals in the opposition’s net so far in its 10 games.
Autumn Lakari added an assist, while goalies Gabby Noack and Megan Nygaard each recorded two saves.
The Pirates had 20 shots on goal, 13 of which were on net.
You wouldn’t think a loss like what happened against Sheboygan would benefit a highly-ranked team, but Mraz said it definitely has some positives.
“On that day, on that small field, Sheboygan North was better and beat us,” she said. “The tiny field – we lost about 30 yards – hurts us because we wear teams down with our speed and depth, and we like the open space of a bigger field. Hats off to North – they beat us fair and square that night. I think that loss has made us focus a bit more.”
In a 9-1 Fox River Classic Conference victory over Sheboygan South May 3, Hess, Nagel, McKenzie Johnson and Alexis Brunette all scored a pair of goals, while Mya Jacques added one.
“The scoring was spread out which is nice to see,” Mraz added. “As a collective unit, it was a nice game to bounce back with after a tough loss.”
Bay Port is next at home versus FRCC rival Green Bay Southwest Tuesday, May 8, starting at 6:30.