Despite snow on soccer fields across the North Woods, the Northland Pines girls soccer team opened play Saturday in Wisconsin Rapids.

The Eagles recorded two losses against the larger schools of Menomonie Falls and Portage, both of which had already played at least two games this season.

A talented Menomonie Falls team slowly gained possession advantage against the Eagles in the first half, scoring once to take the 1-0 halftime lead. But Falls had trouble scoring against a tight Eagles defense and stellar goalkeeper play from sophomore McKenzie Mayo. 

An “own goal” finally finished off the Eagles at 2-0. Mayo finished with 21 saves for the Eagles.

“Playing with many inexperienced players in their first varsity contest, we did well to hang in there with a very talented team,” said Pines coach Larry Favorite. “It was a good first contest for us, which gave a good picture of where we need to improve our game.”

The Eagles jumped on Portage in game two with a quick score by Lily Young. But a quick counterattack goal from Portage and another later in the half put Pines behind before Lauren Grosskopf tied the game at 39 minutes. Lacy Gilomen assisted both scores for Pines as the half ended 2-2.

Pines opened the second half strong with better possession play. But eventually, Portage scored three consecutive goals by the same player to hand Pines the 5-2 loss.

The Eagles managed 10 shots on goal while Mayo finished with 13 saves.

“After being under pressure for most of the day, our reactions slowed down to the point where one player hit us for four total scores,” said Favorite. “The loss was a little disheartening, but the girls gave a really good effort all day today. The experience we got today will be very valuable moving forward.”

Pines is scheduled for the  Great Northern Conference (GNC) opener Tuesday, April 16, 5 p.m. against Mosinee at home. However, with snow conditions, it may be determined at a later date that the Eagles will travel to Mosinee.