Nicole Herkert’s first goal of the season was somewhat reminiscent of what she did as a standout on Oshkosh North’s basketball team this winter — she scored off a rebound.
The conditions were a reminder of the hoops season as well.
With temperatures barely above freezing a chilly breeze kicking up every so often, Herkert was in the right place to poke in Grace Westemeier’s shot off the post, igniting a 5-0 win for the Spartans on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
“We’re really excited,” said Herkert, who added a second goal in the second half. “Everything we’ve been doing in practice is coming together, that’s what coach said in the huddle. It’s really true.”
Herkert’s season-opening goal came a little less than 11 minutes into the match, but it would take a lot longer for the Spartans to add to their lead.
Not that North didn’t have its chances.
Herkert sent a pair of shots — one on a breakaway — sailing over the top of the goal, while Westemeier also had a shot inside the penalty area miss the mark.
Even when the Spartans were keeping shots on target, Berlin’s McKenzie Lambert was getting in the way the junior made eight saves in the first half to keep the Spartans’ lead at 1-0 at halftime.
“We don’t do a lot of finishing stuff indoors so it’s going to come as the season progresses,” North coach Sohaila Akhavein. “To keep the ball and advance the ball from there. Finishing gets frustrating, not being able to do it but it will come.”
It did in the second half.
Four different Spartans scored in a span of about 15½ minutes to break the game open, starting with Jessica Roberts’ laser shot from about 25 yards in the 46th minute.
Herkert then tallied her second goal, getting a nifty feed from Alyssa Brown leading her into the penalty area and she beat Lambert with a low shot to make it 3-0.
“There were lots of missed opportunities and I need to work on finishing more shots,” Herkert said. “But it was nice to get those in.”
Nicole Hawley and Brooklyn Schamens then roughly scored four minutes apart to cap the Spartans’ handful of tallies.
“A big variety (of scorers) from us this year,” Akhavein said. “We can look to Nicole to score goals for us but to have a player like Brooklyn Schamens come in and put a goal in for us is something we can use. We can rely on a lot of these girls to score for us.
“Very happy with how we played tonight. Very excited with how we started this season.”
Despite the loss, first-year Berlin coach Jairo Granados wasn’t disappointed with his team’s effort — especially since it was the first time the squad had been outside this season.
“We have a very, very young team so we were just happy to see things clicking,” Granados said. “First of all, the biggest thing with this team is attitude. The girls are very happy to play.”
Berlin…0 0 — 0
Oshkosh North…1 4 — 5
First half: ON — Nicole Herkert, 10:41.
Second half: ON — Jessica Roberts, 45:33. ON — Herkert (Alyssa Brown), 49:02. ON — Nicole Hawley, 57:31. ON — Brooklyn Schamens, 61:00.
Saves: Berlin (McKenzie 16, Jennifer Nelsen 3) 19, North (Megan Ziegler) 1.