Pulaski blanks Shawano with a pair of second-half goals

Dustin Riese

In a game that featured two teams going in different directions, the Shawano Hawks traveled to Pulaski to take on the Red Raiders in non-conference soccer action Sept. 16. Even with the Hawks playing shorthanded and missing five starters, they continue to give it their all for 80 minutes and put forth some strong efforts.

Pulaski found that out firsthand as the Shawano defense held them scoreless throughout the first half — and reality held them scoreless for more than 68 minutes in total. All it took was a pair of quick second-half goals for Pulaski to get the job done as they picked up the 2-0 win.

“We a,re very fortunate to come out on top today,” Pulaski coach Jeff Schneider said. “Shawano is a talented team that was very determined on the defensive end. Fortunately for us, we managed to make some adjustments at the half and picked up a pair of goals in the second half to win.”

“I am so proud of the kids today, despite what the final score shows,” Shawano coach Andrew Brooks said. “We are down a lot of kids right now, and that hasn’t made things easy lately. But these kids continue to work their tail off for 80 minutes.”

Perhaps the biggest takeaway from this game was the ability of Shawano to not only install basically a new game plan but to implement it moments before the game. In the process, several players — including seniors — showed they were willing to take on new roles as they tried to do whatever it took to slow down the Pulaski offense.

Even with it resulting in limited offensive production from the Shawano front, their job was to pack the middle and force things to the outside, which they did. Although Pulaski managed to dominate the possession throughout the first half, they were unable to get a nice rhythm going offensively as the two sides went into the break tied 0-0.

Shawano junior and team captain Warner Beyer liked the way the team responded and how hard they played throughout.

“It was a full team effort today,” he said. “We worked well as a team today, especially knowing that we would have to switch up our game plan prior to the match. With me being the lone forward up top, we knew that offense would be tough to come by. I am just proud of everyone today and how well we were able to communicate throughout the game to give them a great battle.”

It was starting to look like one goal would be the difference in this one as both teams came out with tons of energy to begin the second half. While Shawano maintained possession in the early stages, they were unable to put any shots on Josh Roth, putting the pressure back on the defense.

Even with the impressive first half from the Hawks defense, Pulaski was eventually able to adjust in the early stages of the second half. With the Raiders going with more of a two- or three-touch game to speed up the tempo, they began to catch the Hawks out of position and started to tilt the field in their favor. That resulted in the first goal and game-winner fewer than 10 minutes in, as Nolan Pratt took a perfect pass from Maddox McKeefry and volleyed it home to give the Red Raiders a 1-0 lead.

Given how well the Shawano defense was playing, it started to look like that goal would be the only goal in the game, as Andrew Hanssen was a man on a mission between the pipes. Not only did he come away with 13 saves in the loss, but several of the saves were tough saves to make as the Pulaski offense was still searching for answers.

Six minutes after the Red Raiders took the lead, it was Donovan Holderness taking the Parker Sanders assist and adding some insurance for the 2-0 lead. That would be all the Red Raiders would need as they had some chances throughout the second half, but it was Hanssen continuing his strong effort in goal to turn them aside as the Red Raiders held off the Hawks 2-0.