If there were any issues for the New Richmond boys soccer team in bouncing back from its first loss of the season, it lasted two minutes.
The Tigers kept their flickering hope of winning a Middle Border Conference championship alive with wins over Amery and Barron last week.
The Tigers faced Amery last Tuesday, one day after the Tigers had suffered their first loss of the season in overtime at Somerset. When the Tiger starters looked like they were still affected by Monday’s loss in the opening minutes on Tuesday, Coach Pete Melloy took immediate action. With two minutes gone in the game, Melloy pulled out six of his starters and emptied his bench.
The starters got the message when the reserves produced the first score of the game. Senior Casey Turnipseed was one of the few starters Melloy kept in the game. Turnipseed got the ball in the goalie’s box and fired a pass to Adam Schoepke, who was able to bang the ball into Amery’s goal at the 10:05 mark.
Melloy put in Schoepke and Croix Hare as the outside midfielders and Charlie L’Allier and Carter Hagen as the center midfielders in the early benching.
“And those guys went in and outplayed Amery,” he said.
The starters were inserted moments later and they had a renewed energy. The Tigers were in full attack mode and it produced another quick goal. Turnipseed carried the ball past an Amery defender and was able to slot a pass to Mitch Giannini, who tucked a shot into the corner of the net at the 17:54 mark.
The Tigers dominated control of the ball in Tuesday’s game. Amery came into the game tied with the Tigers, but there was no comparison in this game. Amery’s only scoring chances came on long boots down the field on attempts for breakaways.
The final Tiger goal came in the 62nd minute, the product of excellent ball movement. Nathan Feiner got the ball to Shane Blackman, who put a hard shot on goal. Luke Landaal crashed the net and was rewarded with a rebound that he quickly deposited in the goal.
On Thursday, the Tigers hosted Barron in a cold, rainy game. The Tigers were able to post another 3-0 victory.
Feiner got the Tigers on the scoreboard quickly, scoring at the 4:55 mark. Feiner made a run with the ball, shooting past a Barron defender. He cut loose with a blistering shot from 20 yards out to beat the Barron keeper.
The second Tiger goal was produced by senior Brad Brusewitz. Brusewitz was moved up to midfield for parts of the game and it produced immediate results. He went on a run, working past several Barron defenders. He unleashed a shot from 35 yards out. The Barron keeper was able to get his fingers on the shot, but the slippery ball glanced off his hands and into the goal.
Another long shot produced the third Tiger goal. Jack Hop took a shot from 25 yards out. It appeared the shot was destined to go over the crossbar, but it tailed downward at the final instant and snuck just under the crossbar. His goal came in the 53rd minute.
The Tigers played another rain-soaked game on Saturday, hosting Hastings, Minn. Hastings is a team the Tigers had never beaten before. That changed Saturday when the Tigers notched a 2-1 win, raising their record to 17-1-2.
Melloy said the Tigers may have been respecting Hastings’ ability too much because New Richmond had never beaten Hastings.
“We were the better team, we just didn’t show it,” Melloy said.
Hastings was running a trap-style defense that resulted in the Tigers being called offsides frequently during the game.
New Richmond finally scored in the 45th minute of the game. Feiner carried the ball down the right side of the field, before sending a crossing pass toward the net. Landaal was in position to take the pass, redirecting it into the Hastings’ goal.
Hastings tied the score in the 52nd minute.
The score stayed 1-1 until there was a battle for control of the ball in front of the Hastings’ goal in the 74th minute. Giannini pulled the ball out of the scrum and fired it into the net for the game-winner.
The Tigers complete their regular season schedule this Thursday with a game at Spooner. The Tigers begin play in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament next Tuesday. The Tigers are the top seed in the bracket. They open play at 4 p.m. on Tuesday, facing eighth seed Holmen. The winner of that game will play again two days later, against the winner of Tuesday’s game between La Crosse Central and Tomah.