By: John Raffel
Hemlock soccer team looking to have strong end to season
Joel Bauer is coaching a Hemlock girls soccer team which has started out at 9-5-1 overall.
“It's gone pretty well,” Bauer said “We started out pretty strong. About halfway through the season, we hit the injury bug, like most teams do. We struggled for a few games. After (a recent) game, we've gotten back on track.”
Bauer indicated a recent game with Ithaca may have been his team's best performance.
“That may have been the highlight of the season as far as the team goes,” Bauer said. “It was a 3-0 win. The first time we played them, it was 1-0 and was a close game the entire time and physical, and could have gone either way. This game I really thought the girls played their best game of the season. We controlled the tempo, Ithaca is a big, very physical team. Our girls didn't let that affect them mentally or physically.
“It easily could have, the way some of their players were knocking our girls around. The girls did a good job of controlling the game. I told the girls in practice it was impressive the way they played physically and their mental toughness given the fact our backs are against the wall.”
Hemlock had lost two its first six conference games, which Bauer noted put his team in a precarious position, trailing teams like Alma.
“We won the Tri-Valley last year for the first time in school history,” Bauer said “Our goal was to repeat that. But a couple of weeks ago, we lost a couple of girls to concussions and we're finally getting back healthy. But one of them is done for the season. She was a starting defender for me. Other than that, the girls are starting to click on the field. There's more trust for each other and a lot more trust on the field. It definitely shows with their team play and individual play and seeing how their confidence has been built throughout the season.”
Top players include senior captain Hannah Marietta.
“She's definitely a leader of the team, on the field and off the field,” Bauer said. “She's really stepped up this year. She's a quiet girl. But when she gets on the field, she has an engine that never quits. She's going to play for Alma College next season. Her teammates are really feeding off that energy. She leads the team in assists with 11 so far this season. She's second on the team with six goals scored, plus two game-winning goals.
“One of the most recent games, it was one of those critical games which if we lost, we'd be mathematically eliminated from trying to win the conference. She had the game-winning goal. It was a beautiful left-footed, weak-footed shot from 20 yards out.”
Courtney Wardlow plays sweeper and is a team captain.
“She's a strong physical girl,” Bauer said. “She has a very good leg. She takes all of our corner kicks and free kicks and goal kicks for us when she's healthy. She does a good job in controlling the center of the field. She guides our team back there. The girls really rely on her. She has a great knowledge of the game. She's had a goal and three assists from her defensive position.”
Brittany Trim is a senior outside defender who “has really stepped up the last couple of games,” Bauer said. “She's very fast. She closes down on forwards and does a great job of redirecting them. She uses her body extremely well. She's a small girl but really quick.”
Junior team captain Hailey Marietta, Hannah's sister, is a forward and leading goal scorer with 13 and three game-winning goals.