By Coach Ben Wilhelm
For the Antigo Times
Tuesday night at Antigo High School’s Listle Field the Red Robins Boys Varsity soccer team started their season off with a match against visiting Pacelli, losing 5-0.
Being the first match of the season for both teams, play started slow with teams getting acquainted to the pitch again. Antigo had the benefit of having a pre-season scrimmage Monday against visiting Merrill. Both Antigo’s varsity and JV squads lost to Merrill in their respective scrimmages, but will face Merrill again next Monday night, August 29, with JV at 5 p.m. and then varsity at 7 p.m. under the lights at Merrill High School.
Antigo head coach Ben Wilhelm noted, “While we lost our scrimmage the night previous, we learned a lot of lessons that translated into much better play in our first real match tonight versus Pacelli.”
With Antigo junior goalkeeper Ben Lewandowski sidelined with an injury, junior Zach Reineke got the start in net and did remarkably well, having only ever played about one half in his career – in the scrimmage the day prior.
“Zach did really great tonight! His composure was excellent and his instincts were natural. I was really thankful for job he did protecting our net tonight,” Wilhlem adde. Reineke had 22 saves, nine in the first half and 13 in the second half. Overall he had a save percentage of 81% for the match.
Antigo had a fair start with possession being fairly even. Following defensive lapses Antigo allowed goals in the 17th and 19th minutes from Pacelli’s Andrew Blanker and Connor Molski. Antigo continued to hold strong until the 41st minute with another goal from Blanker.
Coach Wilhelm said, “Every goal Pacelli scored tonight they had to earn. Our guys stood up very well, never gave up, and never hung their heads. Some goals tonight were also lucky, scored after second or third rebounds with their first attempts denied.”
With the score 0-3 at half, Antigo regrouped and only allowed two goals in the second half at the 56th and 58th minute. Offensively for Antigo, Jackson Smits, Luis Hernandez, Doug Dittel, and Tommy Blink, all saw shots on goal. Defensively, standouts included again Jackson Smits, and Luis Hernandez, as well as Noah Samolinski and Cole Sowinski.
Coach Wilhelm concluded by saying, “Despite our 0-5 loss, this was one of the best season openers I’ve seen. We faced a well matched team, and were fairly well prepared. We came away with many positives to focus on, and nailed down a handful of manageable improvement areas to focus on.” T
he Robins have a break from matches for the rest of the week, and will travel to Gresham for a varsity tournament on Saturday to face Gresham, Clintonville, and Freedom, which should all be even and competitive matches.