Monday evening the Antigo girls soccer team traveled to Phillips for their final regular season match.
It marked the third matchup between the teams this season, once in a scoreless preseason scrimmage, and once at home, falling 2-0 to the Loggers.
“We’ve had a stretch of hot weather and I was a little worried it would affect our play, but our girls stepped up and pushed through the heat to challenge Phillips today,” head coach Ben Wilhelm said. “Phillips has been a really great opponent to play this season so I was glad we got one more shot at them.”
In a big change for the Robins, senior Evie LeVeque played a center attacking mid position, and junior Torrence Spencer took over goal keeping duties for most of the match.
“Evie started the season on the field for a game and a half, but when Emma Lenzner injured her hand, Evie stepped up and played fantastic for us the rest of the season in goal,” Wilhelm explained. “So we wanted to let her get back out on the field, and she was definitely a big asset to our field play tonight.”
LeVeque dutifully directed traffic in the middle and even got a shot on goal as part of an attack.
In the first half, Antigo dominated offensively. In the eighth minute of the half, Antigo pushed up the left side of the field. Forward May Castellanos crossed the ball into the box to Margo Kelly who relayed the ball to Anna Evans who quickly put it in the net.
“We had a number of good sequences in the first half that showed the hard work we’ve been putting in at practice. And it was awesome to see that hard work pay off with a well earned goal from Anna,” Wilhelm said. “Like LeVeque, Evans started the year in midfield, but was pulled back to help at defense all season, so it was fitting that she was able to play up today and score.”
That crew of Castellanos, Kelly, and Evans comprised most of Antigo’s offense statistically. But numerous other Robins contributed with excellent field play, again with LeVeque commanding the midfield, and Herlinda Guerra skillfully working around defenders as an outside mid. Alexis Simmons took turns at forward, and Madison Anderson, Lilianna Martinez and Ellie Smith took turns at outside mids, all demonstrating improvement in skills and patience.
About 30 minutes into the first half, Phillips did put a shot in the net but fortunately it was called back due to offsides.
The remainder of the half saw no additional goals and the Robins went into halftime up 1-0.
Defensively for Antigo, Alyssa Tincher continued to shine in a defensive mid role, faithfully clearing any Phillips attacks.
In center back positions, Ellie Packard and Bella Cmaylo fought hard and barely allowed any shots, and were even able to take turns at mid and forward positions from time to time. Outside defensive backs were Emma Packard and Ariana Aguilar-Martinez. Substitute keeper, Spencer, only needed to stop four shots in the first half and handled them all very well in her debut start.
In second half play, Phillips didn’t give up, but rallied and recorded double their first half attempts on goal.
“All season I was impressed with Phillips’ determination and sportsmanship and I really respect them because I think they had a similar season like we did,” Wilhelm said. “We were playing with four subs but they only had one, and we were all playing in 80 plus degree weather. So for a team to last a whole match with very little relief is a great testament to their players and program.”
Halfway through the second half, the Robins changed keepers, putting Emma Lenzner in net to let Spencer back to her field position as an outside mid. In second half play, both Spencer and Lenzner notched five saves each.
“We had a lot of fitting season finale stories come full circle in this match, first with LeVeque playing the field, then with Evans moving up to score, and finally with getting Emma Lenzner back in net where she started the season,” Wilhelm said. “She was excited to start the year but only got one and a half games in before injuring her hand, so it was fitting that she was able to finish out today’s game in net.”
“This was a really great match to close out our regular season and it really demonstrated our girls hard work and perseverance,” Wilhelm said. “While we head on to a really tough regional game on Thursday, we will remember this win to help us push through and finish strong.”
Antigo closes its regular seaosn with a 1-10 overall record and will certainly have its work cut out for it against the top-seeded and Great Northern Conference champion Ashland Oredockers in Thursday’s WIAA Division Three regional.
Ashland is 15-1 on the season, defeating the Robins 18-0 on May 20. The winner of Thursday’s game will play the winner of New London and Mosinee in a regional final Saturday.