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Soccer: Spartans need answers after rough week

Somerset junior Eli DeJongh (9) moves the ball upfield while being defended by New Richmond's Herbert Struss during last Tuesday's game. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Facing rivals New Richmond and Osceola last week exposed that the Somerset boys soccer team is a work in progress, and the team is at the early edge of that progress spectrum.

The Spartans played well for a half when they hosted New Richmond last Tuesday. New Richmond pulled away in the second half when the Spartans tried to work in young players, resulting in a 7-0 final score.

In Thursday's game under the lights at Osceola, the Spartans were hoping to be more competitive, but they suffered a 3-0 loss to the Chieftains.

Both games showed the Spartans need improvement in every area on the field. The Spartans gave up a goal on a free kick 6:38 into Tuesday's game. The Spartans and New Richmond stayed at 1-0 until there were 25 seconds left in the half, when New Richmond scored on a breakaway.

New Richmond scored seven minutes into the second half and the floodgates opened from there.

Somerset coach Bill Roll is trying to find ways to get the team to be productive at both ends of the field. Right now he is putting his three best players in the defensive zone. That includes keeper Brennan Sheridan, with Elliot Olin and AJ Beasley stationed in front of him.

The coaches tried to spread out the talent early in the Osceola game, moving Olin to forward. The move didn't work as hoped. The defense wasn't as sharp and the Spartans struggled to get the ball to Olin so he could create offense.

Somerset trailed Osceola 1-0 at halftime, which led to moving Olin. Osceola was able to get more scoring chances and netted two in the second half.

Somerset is giving up an immense number of shots this season. Through six games, Sheridan has made 162 saves. That includes 28 against New Richmond and 30 against Osceola.

"You can't give up 33 shots on goal and expect to win a lot of games," Roll said.

Somerset is a very young team and some young players are taking advantage of the opportunity to show they are ready for bigger roles. Jack Schottler was used as a defensive reserve Thursday and the coaches were impressed. Sophomore Ben Rybacki played all 90 minutes in Thursday's game.

"He probably had our best game of anybody," Roll said. "He looked like a legitimate player."

The Spartans are looking for more players to step up as they continue a busy schedule. The Spartans will play at home Thursday against Barron, before playing at Baldwin-Woodville next Tuesday.

Dave Newman
Dave Newman has been the sports editor at the New Richmond News since 1988. He has covered the action in the Middle Border Conference, Dunn-St. Croix Conference and Big Rivers Conference for nearly 30 years.
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