Phantoms continue defensive domination
By Greg Bates
DE PERE – The West De Pere girls’ soccer team continued its domination May 28.
Ten games into the season, the Phantoms have been tough to slow down.
Coming into its Bay Conference showdown with Seymour Friday, May 28, West De Pere had outscored its opponents 72-4.
The Phantoms improved to 9-0-1 with a 4-0 victory.
“Credit to Seymour – they did a good job of building through the middle of the field in the first half,” West De Pere head coach Matt Ganzen said. “Our girls settled in and started connecting passes and finding channels between the defenders. We were unfortunate a few times around the net, but we’re creating the opportunities, which is the first step.”
West De Pere had nothing but opportunities in Seymour’s end all game long.
Thunder goalie Madison Mueller was peppered, making 23 saves.
Phantoms senior captain Bailey Baeten took 12 shots, but couldn’t get one to fall – ringing a few off the posts.
“Me and Brei (Rozmiarek), we’re both some of the primary scorers,” Baeten said. “We both didn’t score tonight, so it shows how many other people we have who score and can step up when not everyone is having their best game.”
How has West De Pere’s potent offense been able to generate so many quality scoring chances every game?
“We have quite a bit of speed up top,” Baeten said. “Us on the outsides, we’ve got speed and we’ve got good distributors in the middle. Carli Green and Havanah (Brockington) distribute the ball insanely well. They’re able to find those channels with me and Brei running onto them, and most of the time we can beat (other teams) off our speed.”
Phantom goalie Makenzie Konop stopped all six shots she faced.
The shutout is West De Pere’s seventh on the season.
The team is allowing a stingy 0.4 goals per contest.
“We shift well and have good core balance,” Baeten said. “Ella (Blom) and Nati (Natasha Zeamer) lock it down in the middle, and they play well together. Ella’s insane in the back – she’s fast and covers the outside, and our middles drop back to help when they get beat.”
West De Pere scored in the first two minutes of the game when Orianna Ponozzo fought hard and stuck with the play.
The ball slipped out of Mueller’s hands, and Ponozzo slotted it into the back of the net with her left foot.
Baeten received an assist.
“It was a good hustle goal on her part,” Ganzen said.
The Phantoms’ second tally of the opening half originated on a corner kick.
Seymour’s defense cleared the ball, but center back Blom pressed up, got a clean first touch and rifled the ball over Meuller from 25 yards out.
Green scored 6:46 into the second half to put West De Pere up 3-0.
Brockington put in the game’s final goal at 75:17.
Ganzen said he liked how his girls stepped up in the second half.
“We possessed well in the midfield,” Ganzen said. “Our midfield stepped up in the second half and combined on some great passes.”
Ten days earlier, West De Pere beat host Seymour 5-0.
Thunder coach Steven Seefeldt said he thought his girls improved the second time around against the Phantoms.
“Some of our defensive positionings, we played lots better with that,” Seefeldt said. “We started to find our feet when we were passing the ball to get some possession, but, we still have to get better at that.”
West De Pere has three games left in the regular season next week: Tuesday and Thursday at home against Green Bay East and Wrightstown, respectively, and then a road test against Xavier Friday.
The Phantoms and Hawks played to a 2-2 draw May 11.
West De Pere is atop the conference at 9-0-1 with Xavier sitting at second with a 6-0-2 record.
“Xavier is our big rival right now,” Baeten said. “Our game got canceled against them (May 27), so we’ll be seeing them next week. We’ve got another week to prepare for them. Hopefully, we stay strong and get healthy.”
Baeten said her team needs to shore up one big area before the playoffs start June 8.
“We’ve played slow at the beginning of games, which is not going to go well in the playoffs,” she said.
The last two playoff runs by West De Pere – when Baeten was a freshman and sophomore – resulted in back-to-back regional championships.
Baeten said she’s confident her team can make some noise in the postseason.
“We’ve been getting better every game,” she said. “It’s good for me to see. I wasn’t expecting us to click so well right away. We’ve come a long way, and it’s cool to see. In the playoffs, I hope we get far.”