By Dan Truttschel

Sports correspondent

The Big Foot-Williams Bay boys soccer team has yet to hit its stride early in 2017

And as such, the results have been mixed so far.

Big Foot posted a 1-1-1 record at its own invitational Saturday to move its record to 1-4-2 overall.

The Chiefs opened the day with a 4-1 win over St. John’s Northwestern Military Academy, followed by a 3-0 loss to Janesville Craig and a 1-1 tie with Poynette/Portage.

Longtime Big Foot coach Keith Blakeman gave an honest assessment about the day.

“I thought we struggled over the entire day,” he said.

Against St. John’s, the Chiefs fell behind 1-0 early before they put together four unanswered goals to take control.

David Martin started the run with an unassisted goal at the 8-minute mark, followed by a trio of penalty kicks by Freddie Mannelli at the 16-, 39- and 49-minute marks.

Blakeman said the difference came down to his team’s ability to increase the pressure on its opponent.

“We were able to put significant pressure on their midfield and defense throughout the game, which produced scoring chances,” he said.

Mannelli’s hat trick was quite the accomplishment because each came in a one-on-one penalty-kick situation with the goalie.

“That takes significant concentration and execution,” Blakeman said. “He did a great job.”

Big Foot goalie Alexis Munoz finished the opener with one save.

In the day’s second contest, the Chiefs fell behind 1-0 to Janesville Craig before Emmanuel Carreno knotted things up with an unassisted goal at the 21-minute mark.

Craig answered, however, with the eventual game winner at the 40-minute mark, followed by an insurance goal at the 60-minute mark.

“Craig is a much more talented team,” Blakeman said. “They kept us under pressure. We could not build anything going forward, and we had no answers for their offense.”

Poynette/Portage took a 1-0 lead just four minutes into the finale, and that’s how the score stayed until Big Foot tied things up at the 41-minute mark on a goal by Heath Dillenbeck off an assist by Mannelli.

Blakeman said his team had plenty of chances to score.

“We created more than enough chances throughout that game to score four goals, but were unable to convert them,” he said.

Dillenbeck’s game-tying goal came off a free kick near the sideline by Mannelli that Dillenbeck headed past the goalie, Blakeman said.


Conference play begins

Big Foot opened its Rock Valley Conference schedule last Thursday afternoon at East Troy.

Through seven games, there’s one specific area that Blakeman wants to see improved.

“We need to start scoring more consistently if we want to compete in the conference,” he said. “That’s our focus.”

The Chiefs are idle until Thursday, Sept. 14, when they travel to Whitewater for a 6:45 p.m. RVC contest with the Whippets.


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