Saturday the Robins boys varsity soccer team traveled to Ashland for a non conference match at noon. The last time Antigo faced Ashland in soccer was October 2014 when Antigo was shut out 11-0 in a regional playoff game, however 2018 results would fall heavily in favor of Antigo instead.
As play opened, it became clear that Antigo was the better team, with the Robins holding possession for more than 75% of the time. Freshman Alex Samolinski got Antigo’s offense started with three solid shots on goal across the first half. Coach Ben Wilhelm said “As we got rolling, it seemed all our shots were going right into the keeper’s hands! But we finally found the net 20 minutes in. Senior Jacob Peloquin sent a crossing pass into the keeper’s box and the Samolinski brothers worked together to collect the pass and carefully ensure it crossed the goal line.” Senior Noah Samolinski got the final touch for the goal and his brother Alex got the assist. In addition to Peloquin and the Samolinskis, Brody Bunnell also offered up significant offensive contributions in the first half. The Robins recorded 8 shots, and 6 shots on goal in the first half, plus almost a dozen additional crossing passes in Ashland’s side that didn’t fully develop into a threatening shot. In goal for Antigo, freshman Frank McKenna made his varsity debut at goal keeper, standing in for starting keeper Cordell Umland who was ill. In the first half, Ashland’s offense was quite weak, only requiring McKenna to clean up three saves! Coach Wilhelm said “When I saw Frank warming up, I knew he was going to have a great day. He served us confidently and played every ball just right; we couldn’t have won today without him.”
In second half play, the Robins continued their offensive barrage with 6 shots and 4 shots on goal, again with many sends and crosses that just fell just one step short of developing. Second half offensive stand outs were Noah Samolinski and sophomore Zech Steber. Also offering offensive looks were Peloquin and Bunnell again, and seniors Lenny Ebel and Grant Meeks. Ashland didn’t give up in the second half, fighting hard for a team with few subs on the bench, and saw more possession than the first half forcing Antigo’s defense to work harder. Keeper Frank McKenna recorded five saves in the second half, two of which were very dangerous, but expertly handled. In the last 20 minutes of the game, Ashland senior Tim Meyer nearly scored twice, but both times McKenna made the save. Meyer’s first shot knocked off the crossbar, narrowly missed crossing the goal line, and then was quickly collected by McKenna. Then Meyer’s second shot forced McKenna to dive through the air across the goal mouth, deflecting the spinning ball that then landed and spun out just outside of the goal post. McKenna’s eight total saves in the match reflected Antigo’s tight and patient defense, and their relentless offense.
Coach Wilhelm said in closing “We had a pretty convincing win today, helping improve our record which was already the best any Antigo boys soccer team has ever seen! But we still have a lot more work to do yet this season, with weakness to still work on, and seven games remaining, many of them conference matchups.”
Tuesday the Robins hit the road again, traveling to Iron Mountain for a 6pm match under lights.
- Courtesy of Ben Wilhelm