Shawano falls to Xavier in final Bay soccer match

Popelka nets host’s lone goal
Morgan Rode
Sports Editor

The Shawano Community High School girls soccer team had thoughts of avenging an early-season loss to Xavier, but a sluggish start doomed Shawano in a 6-1 Bay Conference Tournament loss on May 23 in Shawano.

Xavier scored two goals in the first 7 minutes, 10 seconds and Shawano was never able to recover.

Shawano got several shots on goal throughout the contest, but only Trinity Popelka was able to sneak one in.

“It’s frustrating because we’re better than what we showed tonight,” said Shawano coach Emily Stepanek. “We battled them and lost 2-1 at their place and played with them the whole 80 minutes (on April 18). I don’t know (what happened tonight) — it’s the end of the year, graduation, they are tired. We’ve got our bodies back, so that’s a good thing — you play with what you got and hope you show up.”

Xavier had the first good look on goal about three minutes in, with a shot glancing off the left post. About 30 seconds later, the visitors scored after a scramble in front of the net.

Shawano goalie Brynlie Boyles made a save in the fifth minute of play before Shawano put together a strong push on the other end. Xavier’s keeper was able to grab the ball before Shawano could attempt a shot on goal.

Xavier pushed the ball the other way and scored again at the 7:10 mark to make it 2-0.

“So all year marking has been a problem for us. So it’s just a lot of communication where we will have a mark and we’ll switch marks and the other person won’t switch, so we’ll have two on one," said Popelka. "Those through balls that they were hitting were really just miscommunications on our half. Those goals in the first seven minutes were errors on our half for not marking and bad communication.”
“Our midfield definitely didn’t have very much communication, along with the rest of our team,” said Shawano’s Adison Moesch. “We lost our shape and that’s why they were open and had those shots. Definitely two goals right off the bat, it doesn’t help the vibe of our team.”

Shawano had a couple opportunities to change momentum over the next 10 or so minutes of play, but an Adrienne Rekow shot was saved and another attempt from the hosts sailed over the top of the post.

The hosts had another good advance near the 27:45 mark, but a pass in front of the Xavier net didn’t have a Shawano player in position to try and knock a shot in. Xavier then quickly pushed the ball the other way before scoring at the 28-minute mark.

Shawano had a couple other solid chances to score in the first half, but Xavier was able to turn them away.

Boyles made a couple key saves early in the second half before Popelka scored at the 44:26 mark to bring Shawano back within two goals.

The goal was a high-arcing shot that got over the Xavier keeper’s head and snuck in just below the top bar. It came off a throw in, with Moesch getting credit for an assist on the score.

“It was more like a we need momentum moment, so I kind of just ripped (a shot) and it just so happened to fall into the net,” said Popelka of the play. “It was a good shot but it was more like a shot in the dark to try and get us some momentum going.”

Xavier took any momentum Shawano gained right back with a goal at the 45:46 mark.

Shawano continued to battle until the final whistle, with Moesch, Rekow and Popelka getting some shots on goal, but the hosts couldn’t score again. Boyles also made several saves in the final half, even after getting dinged up on one save.

Xavier put the game away for good with goals at the 63:40 and 75:06 marks.

Shawano finished 2-1 in its three Bay Conference Tournament matches. Shawano topped Green Bay West 8-0 and New London 9-3 in its other two matches.

“I think our heads got a little big after the fact that we beat the other teams pretty bad,” said Moesch. “I think we thought that since we held Xavier last time, we though that we were going to win, but obviously that wasn’t the case.”