Near the end of “The Ballad of Jed Clampett” from “The Beverly Hillbillies” are the lines “Set a spell. Take your shoes off.”
The Seymour girls’ soccer team probably couldn’t wait to do that Saturday afternoon after finishing a week of soccer in which it defeated Marinette on Monday, West De Pere on Tuesday and Denmark on Thursday before falling 1-0 to Neenah on Friday and 3-0 to Kimberly on Saturday.
The wins over the three Bay Conference foes left the Thunder in sole possession of first place in the Bay, but then taking on two Fox Valley Association schools with pretty good soccer pedigrees made for one daunting week.
“We’ve scheduled these games knowing that we want to make ourselves better,” Seymour coach Todd Messner said. “We’re a program that’s growing. We have a strong team for Seymour but we need to face tougher competition. That’s definitely what we got.
“Both games, I felt, we had a little bit of a learning process. Different formations. Neenah is a much more physical team. We adjusted well at halftime and played them much tougher in the second half yesterday. Kimberly plays a better possession game. We still had some chances here and there.”
There is a method to the madness of scheduling teams like Neenah and Kimberly and entering tournaments like this coming weekend’s Green Bay East tournament, which includes Division 1 teams like historically tough Eau Claire Memorial and Division 2 power Grafton. It’s about preparing for the WIAA tournament, which begins on Thursday, May 30.
“It’s a really good learning experience for us because we always meet Notre Dame in the regionals,” Seymour captain Carli Peters said. “Right now, I think they’re ranked second in D-2 and they’ve been playing D-1 teams in their conference. We have to play good competition to be able to compete with them in the finals.”
Notre Dame and Seymour are in the same side of the WIAA Division 2 Stevens Point soccer sectional, giving the possibility of a Seymour-Notre Dame sectional semifinal.
Peters said that everyone was pretty much exhausted from the five-game stretch but the games against the Rockets and Papermakers were fun.
“It’s a whole different kind of a world,” Peters said. “A step up from what we’re used to.”
Kendra Bombinski, who scored Neenah’s goal in a 3-1 loss to Waukesha West on Saturday, knows the need for a soccer team to spread its wings and face competition from all over.
“It gives us a different variety of competition from outside the FVA to battle and see what we can do against them,” Bombinski said. “You can see how people from different areas play and then we have to step up and battle against them. The more you go toward the Milwaukee area, the tougher the competition gets. I think it’s just a faster play than around the FVA.”
Said Neenah’s Emily Skaer, “It makes us push ourselves and helps us get our stuff together because we know, down the road, we’re going to be playing harder teams and that’s when it’s going to count.”
Kimberly and Neenah like to have plenty of tough opponents on their schedule. Kimberly’s schedule, for example, includes nonconference foes like Waukesha West, Oregon and River Falls, while Neenah fills its schedule with the likes of Waukesha West, Kenosha Tremper and Brookfield Central.
Scheduling opponents like that is part of the formula for building a program to a high level and keeping it there. Another part of the formula is with the youth programs.
“We’ve done a lot of talking with our youth teams,” Kimberly coach Kristin Ruhsam-Tegelman said. “The coaches from the younger levels have really taken soccer seriously the last, I’d say, five to 10 years. It’s really helping that the kids are coming to us with the skills and with the knowledge of soccer before they get to high school.
“I really give a lot of credit to our club teams and the teams in this area getting the kids involved in soccer at a much younger age.”
Goals: Alex Dorn K (Caylee Mazemke) 41:03, Julieanna Peters K (Sydney Buss) 43:11, Sydney Buss K pk 58:25. Shots: K 16, S 2. Saves: Alison Wirth K 0, Jill Barrette K 1, Maddie Plinska S 14.
Goals: Emily Dynis WW 13:00, Kendra Bombinski N 25:00, Carly Richter WW (Natalie Yass) 48:00, Dani Rhodes WW (Katie Grall). Shots: WW 15, N 5. Saves: Jessie Losiniecki WW 3, Alexus Remme N 10.
–Jim Oskola: 920-993-1000, ext. 230, or email@example.com