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Somerset soccer receives second seed, then proves that it is deserved

Somerset senior JT Karis (9) leads the team in a quick conversion from offense to defense in Thursday’s win over Rice Lake.

When the Somerset soccer team received the second seed in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament bracket last week, Rice Lake petitioned to get placed above the Spartans in the playoff bracket.

That request was denied. The next day the two teams had the chance to prove which one deserved the upper seed. The Spartans let their play do the talk and it was quite convincing as the Spartans rolled past Rice Lake 5-1.

Somerset received the second seed in the WIAA tournament bracket. They start playoff action next Tuesday, facing seventh seed Osceola. It will be the second time in a week these teams have dueled, also playing each other this Tuesday.

The clash between Rice Lake and Somerset had plenty of build-up, because of the seeding. The Spartans didn’t have much energy to start the game, but that began to change midway through the damp first half. The Warriors got the opening goal when leading scorer Shawn Gilbert was left alone at the top of the goalie box. He quickly converted a pass into Rice Lake’s only goal.

The Spartans answered when Logan Wiederin converted on a pass from Jon Bucklew, following a nice setup by Jake Scott. That goal came at the 16:13 mark.

Somerset took the lead minutes later when Bucklew scored on a penalty kick. The penalty occurred when Gavin Meader was knocked out of the air as he leapt for a ball in the goalie box.

The score remained 2-1 until the midpoint of the second half. The Spartans broke the game open by scoring three times in a five-minute span. Wiederin got the first of those goals, again off an assist from Bucklew.

Senior Thomas Bauer scored 41 seconds later, after forcing a Rice Lake turnover. The Spartans completed their scoring when Bucklew converted his second penalty kick of the damp afternoon.

The game is listed as cancelled in the WIAA records because one of the game officials failed to show up. But both teams played with high level of intensity, nonetheless.

The Spartans also moved closer to a Middle Border Conference championship last Tuesday when they defeated Barron 2-0. This game was played a day after the Spartans’ overtime win against New Richmond that put Somerset into the conference lead.

Spartan coach Bill Roll said the team was sluggish at the start of the game, which he expected after coming off such an emotional high.

Once the Spartans found their legs, they controlled the ball and the pace of the game. Wiederin scored the game’s first goal at the 11:22 mark. He was stationed at the far post, and when Bucklew fired a pass across the goal crease, Wiederin was able to leap up and use a header to drive the ball into the goal.

The Spartans didn’t score again until the 59th minute, when Bucklew scored. Though the score was only 2-0, the Spartans outshot Barron 27-5.

“Stylistically, we were playing well. We were doing the things we wanted to do,” Roll said.

This Thursday, the Spartans will complete their regular season at Osceola. A win in the game will bring the Spartans the first conference championship in team history.

Then the Spartans must make the quick turnaround to get ready for WIAA Division 3 tournament play. The Spartans are the second seed in the regional tournament bracket. They will open tournament play at 4 p.m. next Tuesday, with a home game against Osceola. The winner of that game will play again two days later against the winner of Tuesday’s game between Rice Lake and Arcadia.

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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