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Somerset soccer finding it can compete with anyone in the MBC

Somerset goalkeeper Taylor Sporleder (1) dives on a ball after stopping a shot from New Richmond’s Lexi Brown in the first half of last Tuesday’s game.

The two opponents the Somerset girls soccer team faced last week are projected to be at the top and bottom of the Middle Border Conference. They served as a barometer to show that the Spartans should be competitive with all the teams in the MBC this season.

Last Tuesday, the Spartans hosted New Richmond, the team many coaches project as the favorite in the MBC this year. The Tigers scored twice in the first half, but the Spartans found they were able to compete quite evenly with the Tigers in the 2-0 loss.

The Spartans ended their four-game homestand last Thursday against Spooner. The Rails are a young team with an experienced goalie as one of their few strengths. Somerset scored four times in the first 11:23 of the game and seven times in the first half. 

Somerset finished the day with a 7-0 win.

The New Richmond game served a needed gauge, according to Somerset coach Bill Roll, because it tested the Spartans at every position.

“Our goal is to find positions who will give us the chance to beat teams like New Richmond ... tougher opponents,” Roll said.

In the early stages New Richmond was able to expose areas where the Spartans were lacking speed and that helped the Tigers to build up the 2-0 lead. The coaches worked in players like Jacqueline Martell and Kristen Vensland, who balanced out New Richmond’s speed. Vensland was playing in her first varsity game.

“She showed she’s ready. She definitely helped us in the defensive end,” Roll said.

Junior Bryanna Sengbusch was moved to outside defense in the second half and she also helped neutralize the Tigers’ attack.

The emergence of the young defenders with the readiness for the varsity level caused the coaches to make several more changes to the lineup. Anya Swanson was moved to attacking midfield, with Briggan Harris at defensive midfield and Hannah Waskosky at stopper.

Those moves were in place when the Spartans took on Spooner. The Spartans were on the offensive immediately. Rayna Sauers scored 64 seconds into the game, making a cut to the far post to convert a pass from Anna Rybacki into a goal.

In the middle of the seventh minute, senior Sydney Nelson scored on a deep shot which she put over the reach of the Spooner keeper. The third goal came a minute later. Hannah Meyer got the ball ahead to Rybacki, who did the rest, dodging the sweeper and keeper to score.

“That’s Anna at her best. She’s got a lot of weapons. She’s more than just a speed player,” Roll said.

Rybacki scored again at the 11:23 mark, which led the coaches to begin substituting liberally. Nineteen girls saw game time on Thursday.

Rybacki scored from Meyer again in the 30th minute. Two minutes later, Leah Patterson scored off a pass from Swanson. Waskosky scored the seventh goal, in the 41st minute, off a feed from Nelson.

Roll said he hoped this win helped give the Spartans the confidence that they can be one of the better teams in the MBC this season.

The Spartans are back in action Thursday with a game at Spooner. The Spartans will play at home next Tuesday against Amery.

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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