New Richmond boys soccer wins regional championship
New Richmond’s boys soccer team will host River Falls in the WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game this Thursday.
New Richmond qualified for the sectional tournament by winning its second regional championship in team history last Thursday with a 4-0 win over La Crosse Central.
New Richmond will face River Falls at 3:30 p.m. on Thursday in the sectional semifinal. River Falls qualified for the sectional with a 4-1 win over Onalaska. In the other sectional semifinal game on Thursday, Marshfield will host Pulaski. The winner of Thursday’s games will meet in the sectional title game, which will be played at 4 p.m. on Saturday in Marshfield. The winner of Saturday’s game qualifies for the WIAA state tournament.
The New Richmond boys carry a 21-1-2 record into the sectional tournament after wins last week over Holmen and La Crosse Central in the regional tournament. The Tigers are the top seed in this half of the sectional tournament bracket. When the Tigers played eighth-seeded Holmen last Tuesday, the Tigers were a team in a hurry. They were held scoreless in the first half, before two goals in the middle of the second half gave them a 2-0 victory.
The Tigers have achieved their unprecedented level of success by being a savvy ball control team. They got away from their style in the first half against Holmen, showing some impatience by trying for breakaways on long boots upfield. It produced several shots, but they were hurried, out of control attempts.
Coach Pete Melloy reminded the players to get back to their style of play in the second half and soon things fell into place. The Tigers got a break on their first goal, scored by Jack Hop in the 56th minute. Hop took a corner kick in the slick, rainy conditions. The Holmen keeper expected a Tiger to redirect the ball, but instead, Hop’s kick curled right into the goal.
“Once we got that first goal, things settled down,” Melloy said. “We were pressing too hard.”
A sweet individual effort by Josh Geigle produced the second goal. Geigle used his speed to dodge three Holmen defenders as he dribbled the ball down the left side of the field, before cutting into the middle to put away his shot.
The two-goal lead was ample protection because the Tigers limited Holmen to very few shots in the game.
The Tigers played much closer to the style that has carried them all season when they overwhelmed La Crosse Central on Thursday.
“It was the best we looked all year,” Melloy said. “From the get-go, we dominated.”
La Crosse Central brought an 11-7 record into the game, but the Tigers held Central without a shot for much of the game. When the Tigers are at their best they are possessing the ball for long stretches of the game and that’s just what they did against Central.
Senior Brad Brusewitz netted the Tigers’ first goal at the 16:40 mark, after he got control of the ball following a corner kick.
Hop bagged the second goal 21:34 into the game. Nathan Feiner possessed the ball, drawing several La Crosse defenders to him. He dropped the ball back to an undefended Hop, who one-timed a shot into the corner of the net.
The score remained 2-0 until there were 12 minutes left in the game. The Tigers withstood a hearty charge from La Crosse in the early minutes of the second half before reestablishing control of the game. Senior Mitch Giannini scored the team’s third goal, knocking a shot into the upper left corner of the goal.
Brusewitz capped the scoring with 90 seconds left in the game, scoring on a breakaway as La Crosse pressed up in hopes of getting on the scoreboard.
Thursday’s sectional semifinal will be the second meeting this season between the Tigers and Wildcats. New Richmond won the first meeting on Sept. 13, 3-1. Melloy said the two teams will be evenly matched, saying the Tigers should have the poise to perform well in the upper levels of the playoffs.
“We had a great regular season, but that’s ancient history. We’re 2-0 (in the playoffs) and we’re trying to get to 6-0.”