An impressive defensive effort — one of the best Oshkosh West has put together this season on the soccer field — wasn’t enough to keep powerhouse Kimberly off the scoreboard.
The Papermakers scored once in the first 11 minutes and twice in the final 81/2 minutes to pull out the 3-0 win on J.J. Keller Field at Titan Stadium.
In between, though, the Wildcats’ defense was the star of the show.
“We played Appleton North (on Tuesday) and these last two games I think we’ve defended as well as we have all season,” West senior Megan Paulick said. “They are just very strong teams and they know how to work around a good defense.”
Kimberly also proved to be relentless and wore down the Wildcats, resulting in the two late goals.
“I think they were running us around pretty good,” Paulick said. “By the end of the second half people were getting pretty tired. I think that was a big part of it.”
Still, through the first 70 minutes the Papermakers may have dominated possession of the ball, but had only a perfectly placed, wind-aided shot from Caylee Mazemke in the 11th minute to show for it.
Mazemke hit the shot from about 30 yards out that rode the wind to the goal, ducking just under the cross bar while sliding above the outstretched hands of West keeper Olivia Angle.
“We knew we would have to defend and we had to defend a lot in the first half a lot because of the wind,” West coach Greg Ruark said. “It was easy to take positive things out of that game because I thought there were periods of that game that we played with them.”
Angle and the West defense would keep the Papermakers off the scoreboard for the next hour or so of the match and it was the sophomore goalkeeper that was largely responsible for that.
Angle helped the Wildcats fend off eight first-half corner kicks, while the Papermakers also missed on a free kick from 25 yards out directly in front of the goal.
Then, in the second half, she knocked away a shot from Mazemake about 13 minutes into the stanza before coming up with a huge save on a shot by Hannah Pavek.
She also shorted out a Papermaker attack when she sprinted off her line and cleared a through ball, just before Alex Dorn could get to it.
“She was fantastic. She was clearly one of our better players today,” Ruark said of Angle. “Unfortunately goalkeeper mistakes are magnified, unjustly probably. But again, it was going to take a monumental effort to get that equalizer and we just couldn’t get it done.”
The West offense struggled the entire match, finishing with just five shots and none that Kimberly keeper Allison Wirth needed to make a save on.
“We weren’t able to consistently put any pressure on them and sustain any sort of attack,” Ruark said. “I thought we would create a few more chances in the second half with the wind at our back.”
But with so many players committed to defense — and with their thoughts focused around stopping the Papermakers — the offense never found its rhythm.
“We were so focused on defense, that we weren’t getting up enough,” Paulick said. “I don’t know if we weren’t just worried about offense as much but I think we need to focus more on getting up and playing offense.”
Notes: The Papermakers finished with 10 corner kicks, while Oshkosh West generated just one. … Kimberly clearly had a stiff breeze at their backs in the first half, however, the wind shifted slightly at halftime and West played with a more of a crosswind.
Game ball: West goalkeeper Olivia Angle, finished with nine saves and kept the Wildcats within striking distance for much of the match.
Numbers game: 5, the number of corner kicks Kimberly generated in the first four minutes of the match.
Kimberly…1 2 — 3
Oshkosh West…0 0 — 0
First half: KIM — Caylee Mazemke, 10:39.
Second half: KIM — Buss, 71:33. KIM — Caylee Mazemke (Buss), 76:01.
Saves: KIM (Allison Wirth) 0, OW (Olivia Angle) 9.