By Steve Hill
Photo by Kylie Bridenhagen
Sept. 13, 2018
Stevens Point — SPASH missed a golden opportunity to move into a first-place tie with Marshfield Thursday at the Portage County Youth Soccer complex as D.C. Everest salvaged a 0-0 draw with the Panthers.
The Evergreens (3-2-2, 3-0-1 Wisconsin Valley Conference) got eight saves from senior goalie Ty Tretter, including one with less than two minutes remaining in the game, to remain in first place with 10 points in the conference table.
The tie, however, also left Everest tied with Marshfield, which Everest beat 1-0 Tuesday in Weston. Marshfield downed Wausau East 2-1 in Marshfield Thursday to move to 3-1-1 in WVC play.
SPASH (4-3-3, 2-0-2 WVC) has eight points in WVC play, a point behind third-place Wausau West, which was off Thursday.
“I was just thinking about doing whatever I could to keep the ball from going into the back of the net,” said Tretter of a solo run by SPASH freshman Owen Williams, who took a pass from beyond midfield and began working his way through a pair of defenders toward Tretter, eventually getting loose enough in the box to get off a shot.
But Williams couldn’t get if off solidly enough to push it past Tretter, who said he feels very confident in his defensive teammates.
“I think we’re playing really well,” Tretter said. “We’re still undefeated in conference, and I feel really good going into the rest of the schedule with them.”
First-year head coach Josh Roloff was happy to get out off the Panthers’ home pitch with a point.
“It was back and forth. It’s really fun to coach those games, and it’s great to see the guys play really hard,” Roloff said. “Ty comes up big again — it’s a recurring story. On Tuesday he had a ton of saves against Marshfield, and he was solid again back there for us.”
Although Roloff reckoned his team had the upper hand offensively for only about 20 minutes of the 90-minute contest, it did a number of things effectively, particularly in containing quick-footed SPASH midfielder Ricky Perez, a second-team all-stater last season.
“Overall, I’m pretty pleased,” Roloff said.
On the SPASH side, Williams and his teammates were left to rue what might have been and start preparing for their next contests, including a four-team tournament at Everest this weekend and a visit from fifth-place Wausau East Tuesday.
“I had a bad first touch,” Williams said of the final play that almost pulled off a thrilling win for the Panthers. “They cut right in front of me and I tried to go through both of them and put it past the keeper.
“I was just trying to put it in the side, but ended up not doing that.”
The Panthers had more and better chances throughout the game, including several stretches where they were fairly dominant and came heartbreakingly close to goals for the home fans.
But even as the game’s final seconds ticked off, the Evergreens had a chance to pull it out on a run by Everest’s speedy T.J. Knutson that ended near the SPASH goal as the final siren went off.
SPASH coach Derek Bell took the long view after the game, knowing that two-thirds of the conference season is still left and the squads bunched at the top are all capable of winning games against each other.
“It’s key to make sure that you’re putting together games when you’re just growing and that you don’t leave points out there or let a team come in and take points away from you,” he said. “So there are some key things we did tonight that were good.”