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Bella Millians and Sabrina Gaitan battle for the ball. (Staff Photos by Christopher Dunn)

The Whitewater Wildcats picked up a pair of hard-fought wins over Our Lady of Mercy on the road Tuesday night. The Lady Wildcats won the opener 2-0, before the Whitewater boys won 3-0. After a rainy early season, it was a gorgeous night filled with strong soccer.
The Lady Wildcats were happy to come out with a victory over a strong team all while tweaking their game plan.
“We came out and tried to do a couple of things we had been working on in practice. I’m pleased that the girls came out here and were committed to it,” said coach Randy Hayes.
Hayes was also quick to credit the opposition for a stiff test, saying, “All the congrats go to Our Lady of Mercy. They played extremely tough. They had a couple of really good shots, so it easily could’ve been a 2-2 tie.”
Our Lady of Mercy had plenty to be proud of, especially given the amount weather has slowed down their early season progress. The game against Whitewater was just their third of the year thanks to weather issues.
“We were pleased to get that type of result against a very respectable team,” said coach Maddy Kill. “I’m glad that we can compete well with a team like that.”
Among a good performance from her team, the keeper, Jordan Patton, looked sharp against a fierce Whitewater attack, turning away a number of big shots.
“Jordan Patton is only a freshman and she is stepping up and playing like a leader already so we’re very pleased with her effort,” praised Kill. “She’s capable of even more.”
There were ups and downs for both sides early in the match. Patton had a pair of key saves early to keep Whitewater off the board, and Mercy saw one of their own shots ricochet off the left post.
The Wildcats broke through with under eight minutes left in the half when Bella Millians placed the ball perfectly over the keeper and just under the crossbar. Less than a minute later, the Wildcats added to their lead when Emily Peterson converted a penalty kick.
Whitewater’s 2-0 lead would be all they needed as their defense kept the Mercy offense in check. Keeper Emma Fulton pitched a shutout in net.
The Lady Wildcats will use the win as momentum as they build towards what they hope is another deep playoff run.
“We’re moving down the road just trying to get better each game,” said Hayes. “I think the best thing that can happen is each game we inch it up a little bit more. Hopefully we’ll get to where we want to get by the end of the season.”

Devin Dickinson and Whitewater won 3-0 with a second half surge.

In the nightcap Whitewater used a second half surge to beat Mercy 3-0.
The first half was full of tests from both sides, but would end in a scoreless tie. Mercy’s keeper Charlie Feldner deflected a shot from Devin Dickinson on a breakaway, then the Bobcat had their own near miss shortly after when Gabriel Ryce’s shot missed just high.
Whitewater had a great opportunity midway through the half, but could not convert. After a hand ball in the box, the Wildcats got a free kick from point blank range. The Bobcats lined up at the goal line and were able to turn away the chance.
Mercy got one more close look with ten minutes left on a great pass from Simeon Robinson to Ryce, but the shot barely missed to the right side.
Whitewater wasted no time getting down to business after halftime. Less than three minutes into the second half the Wildcats struck not once but twice in the span of 20 seconds. Both tallies came from Nick Gallardo, the second off an assist from Zach Birkhead.
Feldner came through with a handful of key saves to keep the score close, sliding to stop Michael Koenig, tracking down a long range attempt from Jovanny Aguilar, and blocking consecutive shots from Birkhead.
Whitewater would eventually break through again, getting an insurance goal from Kyle Robbins with 7:12 left in the game.