Catalyna Ratajczyk takes a second to catch her breath with a Shawano player during a break in the action late in the first half on March 28.
Catalyna Ratajczyk takes a second to catch her breath with a Shawano player during a break in the action late in the first half on March 28.
As the sun set on a beautiful night on Thursday, March 28, the Lakeland girls soccer team hit the pitch for the first game of the season. The team beat Shawano Community High School by a score of 3-1. 

A few minutes into the game was all the Thunderbirds needed to get things going. They had control of the ball for a large part of the first half and took advantage of a couple Shawano fouls.

After a couple fouls right next to the net, it was Sagen Quale who gave Lakeland a 1-0 lead in the 11th minute.  But the Thunderbirds weren’t done yet.

With Shawano’s corner kick nicely cleared, it was Sophia Myshchyshyn who gave Lakeland a 2-0 lead in the 15th minute, striking the ball past the goalie. They had taken control of tempo and the game.

Shawano’s goalie Peyton Buerman did a nice job of preventing more goals. She made some nice diving plays to keep Shawano in the game. 

Those saves were huge as Shawano would get on the board in the 28th minute cutting the score to 2-1 Lakeland. 

The rest of the half saw a couple great chances by the Thunderbirds, including hitting the post twice, but saw a score of 2-1.

“We were working together pretty well,” coach Stephanie Hartzheim said. “We have some skilled individuals definitely up top and I think that helped with some ball movement and finishing the ball.”

The second half was all about keeping possession of the ball and preventing Shawano from getting back in the game. A couple of Shawano corner kicks started the half off, but were saved by Clair Kaminski. She finished with seven saves.

In the 58th minute, it was Catalyna Ratajczyk who gave Lakeland a 3-1 lead, all set up by a nice run from Abby Parris. Parris and Myshchyshyn controlled the middle of the field well all night.

“They have quick one-two touches, which makes it a lot easier and they can see where the next play might be,” Hartzheim said. 

Shawano kept fighting. In the 64th minute they had a chance for their second goal, but could not punch one in. The second half was fifty-fifty, but the Thunderbirds came out victorious.

Great defense and communication by Lakeland’s back end including Elaina Irmick was important to holding their opponent to one goal. Tomorrow they go back to the lab for more work.

“Practice, practice, practice,” Hartzheim said. “Working with them still on some basic things positioning, passing, finishing, but practice is gonna be key.”

The games have just begun as the team looks to capitalize on this momentum as the season continues. The Thunderbirds next game is Tuesday, April 2 at Amherst starting at 4:30 p.m.

Brett LaBore may be reached at brett@lakelandtimes.com or sports@lakelandtimes.com.