Hess’ hat trick sends Bay Port to state
Bay Port’s Erika Hess, middle, is defended by two Eau Claire Memorial players during the Pirates’ WIAA D1 sectional final game June 9. Hess had a hat trick in Bay Port’s 4-2 win (Rich Palzewic photo).
BY RICH PALZEWIC
WAUSAU – The Bay Port girls’ soccer team is heading back to the WIAA D1 state tournament in large part due to Erika Hess’ hat trick in the sectional final game June 9.
Hess scored on a penalty kick halfway through the first half and then added two second-half goals in the Pirates’ 4-2 victory over Eau Claire Memorial at Wausau West High School.
No. 1 ranked Bay Port (22-1) will play Thursday, June 14, in the state semifinals at Milwaukee’s Uihlein Soccer Park vs. Kettle Moraine (9-2-5) at 7:00. If they manage to win that game, they’d play Saturday at 1:30 for the state title.
“I am extremely proud of this team,” said Bay Port head coach Brooke Mraz. “Grit and fight right to the end. My girls earned this one today – Eau Claire Memorial is an exceptional team.”
The Pirates will be looking to bring back the gold ball this time around after dropping a 3-0 contest last season to Brookfield Central in the state championship game.
After the Old Abes (18-3-1) tallied in the 8th minute to take a 1-0 lead, Emma Nagel scored to tie the game in the 20th minute. Just over 60 seconds later, Nagel was fouled in the box leading to a penalty kick … one that Hess easily put in the back of the net to make it 2-1 Bay Port.
“I pretty much just stared down the goalie,” said Hess, who scored her 37th goal of the year in the game. “I took a deep breath and just thought about what I was going to do.”
Memorial’s Abigail Stow scored her second goal of the game two minutes after the Hess penalty kick to tie the game once again.
“In the second half we knew we had to play a little bit higher because of the length of the field,” said Mraz, who won her 175th career game with the victory. “We usually have a bit more room to work with, but we played our zone (defense) a lot better in the second half to be honest. Stow is a phenomenal player.”
Due to the fact that so many Green Bay area teams play on turf, Bay Port had to adjust to the slowness of the natural grass field at West. The field was also about 20 yards shorter than what the Pirates are used to playing on.
Nine minutes into the second half, Nagel headed a ball off the crossbar from point-blank range and Krause did the same four minutes later.
The game looked like it was heading to overtime still tied at two late, but Hess’ 30-yard bomb in the 84th minute snuck over the Memorial goalie and sent the crowd, and team into a frenzy.
“This girl (Hess) is the true epitome of fight, fight, fight,” Mraz added. “She was getting triple teamed all night, but she dug really deep in this one.”
Hess put an exclamation point to her dominant night with a tally right before the final whistle to close the scoring.
The final six minutes weren’t without some drama as Memorial hit the post with a shot with four minutes remaining.
The Pirates had 20 shots compared to Memorial’s 10. Bay Port had 16 shots on goal, while the Old Abes had just four.
McKenzie Johnson had two assists and goalie Gabby Noack made two saves.
Notes: In her 11 seasons as head coach at Bay Port, Mraz has a career record of 175-63-26. This will be her fourth state appearance as head coach and she has coached in seven sectional finals.
The other semifinal game will pit FRCC rival Sheboygan North (18-1-1) vs. Muskego (13-3-2). North gave the Pirates their only loss of the season … a 1-0 blanking in Sheboygan on May 1.
Bay Port has won 15 straight games since that loss.