The Evansville girls soccer team wasn’t reeling for long.
One day after a humbling loss to McFarland, the Blue Devils bounced back by slowing down streaking Big Foot/ Williams Bay.
Abby Eftemoff scored a pair of first-half goals, and Evansville withstood waves of attacks to earn a 2-1 Rock Valley Conference girls soccer win Friday at Williams Bay High School.
“They were pretty down after the McFarland game, especially (with) how our season had been going,” Evansville coach Brandon Jerstad said, referencing the Blue Devils’ 6-0 loss Thursday.
“It demanded a lot out of them. All of us were tired from last night’s game, playing in the rain, but they still found the energy to fight.”
Big Foot/Williams Bay (5-1-0, 3-1-0 RVC) was held below three goals in a game for the first time this season and slipped out of a first-place tie with McFarland.
The ChiefDogs pinned Evansville back as they pursued a tying goal in the second half, but the Blue Devils (8-2-2, 3-1-0 RVC) stayed organized in their 4-5-1 formation and didn’t break.
Big Foot/Williams Bay outshot Evansville 23-3, including 15-0 after halftime.
“We’ve been in the situation before where we’ve had to be defensive-minded and organized. We knew that would be happening,” Jerstad said.
And Evansville’s second-year head coach took the additional step of assigning sophomore midfielder Makenzie Halla to man-mark Abby Peterson, Big Foot/Williams Bay’s top playmaker who entered the day with nine goals in five games.
“She played absolutely phenomenal with that responsibility,” Jerstad said of Halla.
Eftemoff gave the visitors a surprising lead in the second minute, taking advantage of miscommunication between Big Foot/Williams Bay’s defenders to score on an empty net.
Peterson equalized in the 16th minute by converting a penalty kick after teammate Hannah Palmer was taken down just inside the area, but Eftemoff converted from the spot in the 35th minute to put the Blue Devils ahead again.
Then, Evansville hunkered down to defend its lead.
“They did well defensively packing it in,” Big Foot/Williams Bay coach Rene Perez said. “We hit the post twice in the first half, we had some good opportunities. In the second half we controlled most of it, and then we hit the post, they blocked one. You’ve got to give it up to them.”
Evansville keeper Irelyn Baumberger made 10 saves. Her biggest came in the 79th minute, when Peterson got loose near the net. Baumberger stopped the sure goal by dragging a foot behind her as she jumped to her left.
“I got stuck on the opposite post and I saw she was going the other direction,” Baumberger said. “I cut as hard as I could and I thought she was going to shoot. When I saw it behind me, I stuck out my foot and it took me out. But it kicked the ball out as well.”
Baumberger’s heroics allowed the Blue Devils to hang on for their most impressive win of the season. The ChiefDogs were averaging 5.2 goals per game and were off to their best start in three seasons under Perez.
Should Big Foot/Williams Bay defeat East Troy on Monday, the ChiefDogs would host McFarland on Tuesday with a chance to pull even again atop the league.
“The season is not over,” Perez said. “We’ve still got four conference games to go.”
Evansville travels to Palmyra-Eagle on Monday and hosts Jefferson on Thursday.
EVANSVILLE 2, BIG FOOT/WILLIAMS BAY 1
Evansville 2 0—2
Big Foot/WB 1 0—1
E—Abby Eftemoff, 1:39. BF—Abby Peterson (PK), 15:04. E—Eftemoff (PK), 34:55.
Saves—Irelyn Baumberger (E) 10, Maylani Venegas (BF) 0. Shots—Evansville 3, BFWB 23. Shots on goal—Evansville 2, BFWB 11. Corners—Evansville 2, BFWB 7. Offsides—Evansville 0, BFWB 4. Fouls—Evansville 15, BFWB 10.