New Richmond girls soccer nearly upsets River Falls in WIAA playoffsAs the 14th seed in the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament bracket, it would have been easy to assume the New Richmond girls soccer team didn’t have a chance in its opening round tournament game against third-seeded River Falls last Thursday.
As the 14th seed in the WIAA Division 1 sectional tournament bracket, it would have been easy to assume the New Richmond girls soccer team didn’t have a chance in its opening round tournament game against third-seeded River Falls last Thursday.
But the Tigers had a plan. The plan was so perfectly executed that the Tigers kept the game scoreless for 77 minutes. River Falls scored with less than three minutes left in regulation to escape the Tigers’ upset attempt, 1-0.
New Richmond finishes its season with a 6-13-3 record.
While other 14th seeds around the state in the Division 1 tournament were losing by scores of 11-0, 10-0, 9-0 and 8-0, the Tigers devised a way to frustrate the high-scoring River Falls team. The Tigers kept most of their players on the defensive half of the field, clogging up the shooting lanes for the Wildcats. The Tigers went with five players on defense, including two stoppers, two outside defenders and junior Abby Skoyen as the sweeper. The Tigers utilized three midfielders and a striker and they had another player constantly shadowing River Falls’ top scorer.
A little luck and a tremendous effort from goalkeeper Catalina Prada-Hernandez were also needed if the Tigers were going to make the plan work. River Falls had five shots that hit either the crossbar or a goalpost and bounce away. Prada-Hernandez stopped 26 of 27 shots.
“Catalina was incredible. She played the game of her life,” said New Richmond coach Steve Tesar.
The Tigers’ luck finally ran out. River Falls had another shot hit a goal post with less than three minutes left. This time, the ball caromed down the goal line, before spinning back into the Tiger goal.
Tesar said the plan for the game was simple.
“We were hoping for one mistake by them,” Tesar said as the Tigers aimed to somehow work out a 1-0 win.
The Tigers practiced the defensive alignment they’d use against River Falls in the first half of last Tuesday’s home finale against Spooner. Spooner needed the win to earn a Middle Border Conference championship, but the defensive tactic frustrated the Rails early on. Spooner scored the only goal of the first half. In the second half, New Richmond went back to its normal defensive approach and Spooner went on the attack. Spooner scored four times in the second half to win 5-0, locking the Rails’ first MBC championship.
New Richmond’s season didn’t result in as many wins as the Tigers had hoped, but Tesar said there was definite progress made this season. Eight of the Tigers’ 13 losses were by a one-goal margin. The Tigers allowed fewer goals this season than last year, when they finished 9-11-1.
“We’re returning everyone (except Prada-Hernandez),” Tesar said. “I think we should be favorites to win the conference. That’s what our expectation is.”
Two Tigers received All-Middle Border Conference honors. Kaycie Anderson and Abby Skoyen were both named to the all-conference second team.