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Defense leads the way for Comets

Ripon may have had the shot advantage, but it was Waupaca that came up with its first Eastern Valley Conference boys’ soccer win.

The Tigers outshot the Comets 15-11 Sept. 11, but Waupaca improved to 1-2 in EVC play with a 2-0 win at the Waupaca High School soccer field.

“This is the first game that everybody came out and played to what they’re capable of playing,” coach Matt Lawniczak said after watching his team pick up its fourth win of the season. “This is what we’ve been seeing since Day 1.”

Both of Waupaca’s goals came in the first half. David Rasmussen found the net 3:25 into the game off of an assist from Frerk Schreiber, while Lucas Miller scored off of Rasmussen’s assist at the 30-minute mark.

The Tigers had several scoring chances in the game’s final minutes, but Comet goalkeeper Eric Cummings help keep the shutout intact.

“Eric made some great saves,” Lawniczak said. “There haven’t been a lot of games where he’s had to make the saves with us having the lead. It’s usually after he’s let one in or our defense goes down. You can tell he’s confident.”

The Comet defense kept Ripon from having open looks at the net.

“The defense was extremely strong with Miguel (Barraza) winning every ball in the air and James (Camann), who was solid in the back,” Lawniczak said. “I’m really happy with our defense tonight.”

The win comes after Waupaca opened the EVC scheduled with a 3-0 loss to Fox Valley Lutheran and a 2-1 setback at Berlin.

“It feels good, but I wish we would have two more,” Lawniczak said. “We played like we deserved to win.”

He hopes the game is a confidence-booster down the stretch with EVC games in the next two weeks with Freedom, Little Chute, Appleton Xavier and Winneconne.

“This will be a huge boost,” he said. “If you look at conference, a lot of teams that you would expect to win are losing. I think it’s definitely anybody’s conference. This win’s going to help us.”

Now that the Comets have a conference win under their belt, the next order of business is to stay healthy.

“We lost Patrick Snider for three weeks with an injury up in Wausau and we also lost our other goalkeeper with a concussion,” Lawniczak said. “That’s our biggest thing.”

The game with Ripon was the Comets’ first without Snider.

“We threw Frerk up top,” Lawniczak said. “He plays midfield back in Germany, so he actually looked a little more comfortable to me tonight. We play a heavy midfield with four guys, so I didn’t want to change that. (Snider) was definitely missed on the field, but I was happy with how the guys adjusted.”

The Comets traveled to Clintonville Sept. 18 for a conference matchup with the Truckers and will host Freedom at 7 tonight (Thursday, Sept. 20) in another EVC game. Waupaca will also host New London, Racine Case and Sheboygan Falls in a quadrangular starting at 9 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 22, before returning to conference play at 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 25, at Little Chute.

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