Even though snow was still piled high in the parking lot at Mid-State Technical College, the soccer fields were brown, but clear of any signs of winter.
And they were finally bustling with action.
Warming up in just shorts and jerseys, the Wausau East and Wisconsin Rapids girls soccer teams were able to get outside for a game.
With a game-time temperature of 49 degrees and a brisk wind making it seem a little more like fall than the spring, the two conference rivals were able to take to the field after weeks of indoor practice.
“After so much practice it was so fun to get outside for a game,” said Rapids junior Hannah Kiiskila, who scored the Raiders’ first goal in their 2-0 win over the Lumberjacks. “We talked about it all day and we were preparing each other mentally, and coach had us physically ready for this game. It was a perfect day for soccer. We couldn’t have asked for a better day.”
East senior Gabby Charles was just as excited to be playing outside for the first time this season.
“It was different being outside because we’ve been inside for five weeks. It was a little different to get touches outside and everyone struggled a little bit, but it was great to be outside,” Charles said. “It’s great to know that our season is finally started.”
Wisconsin Rapids practiced last week on snow and ice covered fields, but East has been cooped up in its fieldhouse since March 18, the first day of soccer practice.
“This was our first day outside, our first time on grass and our first time to play 11 on 11,” Wausau East coach David Welles said. “It was exciting today. I was a bit doubtful about the field conditions when I heard we were playing, but the field is in pretty good shape.”
Rapids’ home pitch, Washington Field, which sits kitty-corner from the Mid-State fields, still had small snow piles along the sidelines, making it still unusable.
Despite the winter-worn grass, the Mid-State fields, both varsity and JV, were dry and ready for action.
Parents and classmates were also excited to be outdoors watching a soccer game.
“It’s nice that the girls could get outside after being indoors the whole season,” said Dan Marsolek, father of East sophomore Dannah Marsolek. “It was a nice day for soccer. The field looked good and it was nice for the girls to play another team.”
Because it was the first game, thus the first time both coaches were able to see their squads in competition, a lot of girls saw action. Rapids coach Nate Cleveland substituted four to five girls at a time to assess their abilities.
“It was nice to see where we are as a team,” Cleveland said. “In a normal year we’ve had a lot of time by now to get the right combinations on the field, but the weather just hasn’t cooperated with us.
“Today was great,” he added. “To walk out of school at 3:15 on a sunny day was such a nice change. It was great to be out on the field. We had fans, officials and two Valley teams here today and they were all happy to be outside.”
Second half: 1. WR, Hannah Kiiskila (Kendra Lysne), 43:34; 2. WR, Lysne.
Saves: WE, Kaleigh Karlen 1; WR, Chrystal Yustus 0, Sophie Hardina 1.
Records: Wisconsin Rapids 1-0 overall and WVC; Wausau East 0-1 overall and WVC