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De Pere Redbirds assert their dominance in FRCC with 5-0 win against Sheboygan South

By Tori Wittenbrock

Sports Reporter

De Pere — The De Pere girls’ soccer team has asserted their dominance in the Fox River Classic Conference (FRCC) this season, further solidifying their first place position with their win on Tuesday night against Sheboygan South at home. 

From the opening whistle, the Redbirds put the pressure on the Sheboygan South Redwings to perform. Midfielder Alaena Zastrow got the ball in the box and was able to fire a shot on goal within the first fifteen seconds of the match, testing South’s goalkeeper early on. 

Just moments later, Ellie Patrickus of De Pere launched a well-placed cross into the penalty box, which was then shuffled between a few players before a handball was called and a freekick was awarded to Redbirds. The forward line attempted a cheeky set play, but their efforts were squelched by a clever offsides trap by South’s defense. 

Towards the end of the fifth minute of the game, De Pere’s Claire Bradford stepped up to take a corner kick, ultimately gaining her an assist when her teammate Greta Czachor placed it beautifully in the back of the net. This early goal really shifted the momentum of the game and put the Redbirds in a comfortable position for the rest of the match. 

In the eighth minute of the match, excellent service into the box by Amelia Schuh allowed Zastrow to volley the ball out of the air, past South’s keeper and into the back of the net for an early 2-0 lead. 

De Pere’s control and calculated ball movement contributed to their domination in the first half of the game. The Redbirds were able to maintain possession and keep the ball in South’s defensive half for the majority of the match. 

Outside midfielder JoleighBlahnik worked hard to keep her team on the attack, making good use of the space on the wing in order to bring the ball up the sideline for a slew of consistent crosses midway through the first half. 

Paige Gartzke of De Pere’s midfield exhibited some dicey footwork in front of the goal before ripping a shot just over the crossbar in the 22nd minute, keeping South’s defense on their toes. 

The defensive third of the Redbirds worked overtime to maintain possession for their team, despite South’s aggressive attack and constant pressure. 

A brief run by South’s offense was stopped abruptly by Alli Wettstein on defense. 

Patrickus was almost able to increase De Pere’s lead as the ball bounced around in front of the net, but a strong defensive line from South was able to find a good clearance.  

Forward Alayna Lloyd was able to get off a shot from a difficult angle along the byline for the Redwings in the 36th minute, but it was saved by De Pere’s keeper. Another breakaway for Lloyd with three minutes to go in the half seemed like a good chance for the Redwings to change the momentum of the game, but the De Pere defense remained strong. 

Schuh found herself in a footrace with South’s keeper in the final moments of the first half, a battle that she ultimately won, but that had her facing away from goal. Eventually the ball found its way to Blahnik who crossed it to Patrickus for a nice finish in the 39th minute of the half, putting the Redbirds up 3-0 going into halftime. 

Wettstein held together the midfield for De Pere, while Alexa Dexter and Emma Daharsh worked hard, bolstering South’s aggression. 

The second half of the match got off to a much slower start than the first. Lydia Hutchinson stripped the ball for South, but it wasn’t long before De Pere was able to regain possession and get a shot off in the 50th minute. 

A penalty kick was called on South’s defense, which Czachorpinged in confidently off of the right post for a 4-0 lead over the Redwings. 

A controlled touch and a nice half-volley by Schuh, assisted by Czachor, solidified a strong 5-0 lead for De Pere around the 64th minute.

Despite De Pere’s strong lead, Dexter did not let up for South’s midfield, working relentlessly to gain back possession for her team. 

A 1v1 between South’s Dexter and De Pere’s goalie seemed like a promising opportunity for the team who had been trailing the entire match, but Jocelyn Blahnik just beat her to the ball for a strong and effective clearance up the field. Czachor flicked a header across the box for De Pere, and seconds later the ball found her head again in the 72nd minute for a header towards goal, but the ball just missed the frame of the net. 

“A big part of today’s game was possessing the ball and looking for good shots. We can find a lot of good opportunities, but it’s making the great ones that count,” said Wettstein. “Just getting it in the back of the net and staying strong on D. Those two combined together are pretty much our game plan everytime.”

Although the Redbirds finished the game with a five goal shut out, the game was still a hard fought win according to Coach Andy Steyger of De Pere.
“We did a good job of moving the ball at times. We just need to find some more urgency in the final third to finish some things off. When we got down to the corner and brought some things in, we finished off and had some good opportunities. Sometimes when we are forcing things, that’s when we have some struggles.” 

It is a full team effort for the Redbirds each week. “Defensively we played well, and we moved the ball through the midfield, so then it’s really just finishing things off in that final third.”

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