By Tori Wittenbrock
Associate Sports Editor
GREEN BAY – On Saturday, Oct. 21, UW-Green Bay women’s soccer (0-10-5 overall, 0-6-3 conf.) celebrated the dedication of their senior athletes ahead of their final home game of the season against Youngstown State (7-6-3 overall, 3-4-2 conf.).
The Phoenix honored student-athletes Elle Hill, Grace Miller, Madeline Cruz, Vera Asare and Laney Hoehnke in a pre-game ceremony where the athletes were escorted by their families and teammates.
Following the ceremony, the Phoenix faced a 0-2 loss to Youngstown State in their final home game after a hard fought battle. The Phoenix remained winless on the season following this game before facing the UW-Milwaukee Panthers (9-2-5 overall, 6-0-3 conf.) in their final game of the season on Wednesday, Oct. 21.
The Phoenix, however, did not go down without a fight, playing aggressive from the opening kick-off. In the first minute of the match, forward Zoey Pagels was gifted a through ball that set her on a breakaway. However, the opportunity was squandered when her shot fell right into the hands of Youngstown’s keeper, Brooklynn Kirkpatrick.
However, the Phoenix backline kept the team in the game early after defending an early corner kick and defensive free kick from the Penguins.
A foul by midfielder Allison Steeno for a push in the back, however, set the Phoenix back.
UW-Green Bay’s midfield continued to attempt to slip through balls up to their forward line to send them forward in the attack, but each time they were intercepted by Youngstown’s back line.
After attempting a different approach, Asare found herself with a breakaway down sideline, but after beating one defender her cross was ultimately blocked.
Youngstown State then found themselves with consistent possession in the attack for about four minutes until a shot by defender Emma Rigone skirted out of bounds.
The Phoenix seemed to be in danger when a hard shot by Youngstown’s Megan Park sailed just over the crossbar 16 minutes into the game.
Sophomore Hannah Savoni defended a Penguin breakaway in the corner, which she was ultimately able to force out of bounds for a goal kick four minutes later to regain possession for the Phoenix.
As senior Elle Hill jumped up to flick the ball up the field with a header, she was fouled from behind, giving the Phoenix another chance to find the attack.
A handball on Youngstown led to more service from Hill, bringing them further up the field, yet no one was able to run on to her ball into the box which was ultimately headed away by the back line.
Youngstown’s Chloe Weiland ripped a shot off into the far post’s upper corner at 25:33 after finding herself with the ball, unmarked in the midfield.
Moments later, a corner kick into the box for Youngstown bounced around until it was eventually knocked in for a 2-0 lead over the Phoenix at 29:35.
The Green Bay Phoenix were relentless, however, as a 3v2 breakaway ensued, but was eventually stopped by the Youngstown back line as they quickly recovered.
Penguin Regan LaVigna fought for a break away up the center of the field which prompted Cruz to perform a defensive slide tackle in the 35th minute.
A cross by Phoenix Ryann Hafenbrak was ultimately intercepted by Kirkpatrick in goal which left the Phoenix in an 0-2 deficit going into halftime.
The first part of the second half was off to a slow start with both teams alternating possession back and forth in a battle to find the back of the net.
A shot from Pagels in the 63 min sailed over the goal after she received possession and turned the backline.
Both sides focused less on possession in the second half as they attempted to find their forwards up the field with long balls.
Savoni won the ball in midfield and played Pagels for a quick give-and-go with Lanie Weikerk for a shot to the far post that just missed in the 68 minute with no one following it up.
Another goal was scored by Weiland in the 70th minute, but was disallowed after the ref recognized the offside trap set by Hill.
The Phoenix were granted another freekick that saw a flick out of bounds by Pagels.
Hill came up with a big save on defense at the penalty line, sending the ball out for a corner in the final moments of the game.
Green Bay finished the match with 1 shot on goal to Youngstown’s 6.
The final score was a 2-0 loss.
“We battled hard this season,” said Hill. “It’s unfortunate we came away with a loss on Senior Day, but I’m proud of these girls for battling hard in every game this season.”