Rapids shuts down Merrill, earns first conference win

By Cole Walters

September 13, 2018

Wisconsin Rapids– The Wisconsin Rapids Raiders took on the Merrill Blue Jays in a Valley Conference matchup on a Thursday night at Washington Field. On a night where the Rapids soccer team honored their seniors, the Raiders were able to cash in on a victory with a 4-0 shutout and earn their first conference win of the season.

The Raiders got things started fast when the 6th minute rolled around. Raiders sophomore forward Kaden Kizewski found himself open through the Merrill defense and scored off a header to put the Raiders up 1-0.ƒ

The Raiders would continue to keep the pressure on the Merrill defense, as come the 20th minute, the Raiders were able to make the game 2-0 thanks to a goal by sophomore midfielder Ian Pagel after he ripped a shot past the charging Merrill goalie. Assisting on the Pagel goal was senior midfielder Jared Winters.

Merrill would receive a scoring opportunity on Rapids goalie Justin Abraham come the 43rd minute. After a defensive turnover, Merrill would go on a small breakaway toward Abraham, but Merrill would take the shot early in the breakaway and shot the ball right at Abraham’s chest for an easy save. The save would keep Rapids up 2-0 heading into halftime.

Wisconsin Rapids would have some fun come the 2nd half, as two players were able to score their first varsity goals of the season.

The first player to score their first varsity goal would be sophomore forward Isaias Escalera. In the 59th minute, there was a scramble in front of the Merrill goalie after a corner. The ball would remain loose in front of the goalie, and Escalera would notice the loose ball and fire the ball past the diving goalie for the score. Escalera would put the Raiders up 3-0.

Come the 73rd minute, senior forward Ian Arts would be the second player to get his first varsity goal. Arts, receiving varsity action on senior night, would draw a penalty from a Merrill defender and he would end up taking the penalty shot. Arts would rip the ball right over the goalie’s head and score to give the Raiders a 4-0 lead. Arts would end the scoring for the night to cap off a good all-around win for the Raiders.

Rapids’ coach Kirk Willard was very pleased with his team’s effort on the night, as he said, “We believed in our system tonight. We played our game and played up to the level that we are capable of.”

Coach Willard also noted with the effort on senior night.

“Our seniors stepped up tonight when we needed them most,” Willard said. “Our seniors and the team still feel we are in the conference race, so this win is a step in the right direction to get back in the race.”

With the win, the Raiders now improve to 1-3 in conference play and 2-6-1 overall. The Raiders will now play in their home invitational come Saturday morning at Washington field with first game scheduled to take place at 9:30 A.M.

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