Lightning is never supposed to strike the same place twice.
Well, the Appleton North Lightning did. Five times, to be exact.
The Oshkosh North Spartans couldn’t slow down the Lightning attack, falling to the Fox Valley Association leaders 5-0 on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium on Tuesday.
The pressure came early and often from Appleton North. The Lightning got their first goal from Mackenzie Greisch just 11 minutes into the game and kept rolling from there.
Appleton North’s Kitt Richards made it 2-0 going into half, thanks to a beautiful pass from Gabby Kiefer.
In fact, the damage could’ve been a lot worse for the Spartans. But thanks to keeper Meghan Ziegler, Oshkosh North still had a puncher’s chance.
Ziegler made 13 saves in the first half alone, many of them on excellent scoring chances, to hold the Lightning at bay at least a little bit.
“It was pretty tough, especially in the first half, it got tiring, shot after shot,” Ziegler said. “But my job is to just keep it out of the net and keep everyone calm and settled and that’s what I was trying to do.”
She finished with 19 saves on the night. But the barrage was too much for her, even having one goal go through her hands on Greisch shot two minutes into the second half to make it 3-0 Appleton North.
“She had a phenomenal game,” Oshkosh North coach Sohaila Akhavein said of Ziegler. “Every game, she just impresses us a goalkeeper. Every game that she steps out there, she’s having a phenomenal game.”
The problem for the Spartans was getting their offense going. Oshkosh North struggled to break out of their own defensive zone and only created a couple of chances on the night.
The transistion from offense to defense is where they struggled most and couldn’t get anything moving up field.
“Not being able to get forward is something that we have struggled with and we’ve continued to struggle with,” Akhavein said. “The transition was so slow, our back line didn’t step as fast as we could’ve.
“We’ll continue to make the changes that we need to.”
The frustration on offense built throughout the game for the Spartans, as Appleton North continued to pressure up the field and Oshkosh North just couldn’t counter.
“It was pretty frustrating and I could tell everyone on the team was getting frustrated because it gets a little tiring when they are pounding shot after shot at us and we just aren’t getting opportunities,” Ziegler said. “
Oshkosh North’s best chance came late on a free kick from Sommer Hill that found it’s way to Appleton North keeper Maddy French, who corralled it.
The Lightning would tack on two more late goals from Meg Riebau and Kiana Van Fossen to complete the scoring.
Oshkosh North has continued their slide in the FVA, falling to 1-3 in the conference. The Spartans hope they can fix what they need to fix and get back in the win column soon.
“We need to work on kind of controlling the ball a little more and we still have a little bit of a gap between our midfield and our defense,” Ziegler said. “But I think we played pretty well as a team the whole game.”
Appleton North…2 3 — 5
Oshkosh North…0 0 — 0
First half: AN — Mackenzie Greisch, 11:12. AN — Kitt Richards (Gabby Kiefer), 29:51.
Second half: AN — Greisch, 42:24. AN — Meg Riebau, 61:01. AN — Kianna Van Fossen, 73:03.
Saves: AN (Maddy French) 3, ON (Meghan Ziegler) 19.