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After historic win over Amery, Somerset soccer falls flat

Somerset goalkeeper Aaron Joppru makes a leaping save during the second half of Monday's game in New Richmond.1 / 2
Somerset defender Jake Scott (front) nudges the ball away from a New Richmond player during Monday's game.2 / 2

Last Thursday's overtime win against Middle Border Conference leader Amery should go down as the most significant win in the short history of the Somerset boys soccer program.

But when the Spartans tried to follow up with another peak performance on Monday, they couldn't do it. The Spartans played a stagnant first half in a 3-0 loss at New Richmond that ended Somerset's slim hopes of winning an MBC title this season.

Somerset's first half performance on Monday was shocking because it was such a vast departure from the team's play against Amery. Somerset looked sluggish and confused as New Richmond built a 3-0 lead in the first 16 minutes of the game. The Spartans struggled to clear the ball out of their defensive end, only getting the ball inside New Richmond's 18-yard mark twice in the first half.

"What a terrible half," Somerset coach Bill Roll said. "We didn't come with the same energy as them, or the same physicality."

The Spartans played significantly better in the second half, but couldn't capitalize on several prime scoring chances.

The Spartans would prefer to remember their effort from last Thursday, dealing Amery its first loss since last year's WIAA sectional finals. The Spartans couldn't have played much better on defense. Amery tried to free up leading scorer Jake Mullendore, but the Spartans were ready. Mullendore did get a penalty kick in the game's 24th minute, but Somerset goalie Aaron Joppru made a diving save. The game was scoreless through halftime and deep into the second half.

In the 72nd minute, Amery got a penalty kick and this time Sam Schieffer was able to beat Joppru.

Somerset leading scorer Jon Bucklew then showed why he's one of the leading goal scorers in the state. Sean Wells fed the ball to Bucklew on the left side of the offensive zone. Bucklew split two Amery defenders. As a third closed in, Bucklew fired a shot that tucked inside the near post at the 74:37 mark.

"Jon went into his 'I'm going to take over' mode," Roll said.

The game went into overtime and the first extra session was scoreless. In the third minute of the second OT, Somerset's Ryan Vang won a battle for the ball, carrying it to the 18-yard mark where he passed ahead to Gavin Meader. Meader carried the ball to the goal line, sending a high crossing pass to the front of the net. The pass went just above the fingertips of the Amery keeper. Somerset's Logan Wiederin was right behind the keeper and he used a header to bump the ball into the goal.

This was the first time that Somerset's boys have beaten Amery in a varsity soccer game.

"To a guy, I thought every one of our guys played well," Roll said. "In the grand scheme, it's a small step in what we're hoping to accomplish. We need to continue to play well."

Last Tuesday the Spartans had a more difficult time than they anticipated when they hosted Cumberland. The score was tied 2-2 at halftime, but the Spartans were sharper in the second half, winning 4-2.

Meader scored Somerset's first goal, before Bucklew notched the next two. The final Spartan goal was produced by junior Rhys Linke, who banged in a rebound when Bucklew's shot hit the crossbar. It's the first varsity goal of Linke's career.

The schedule continues to be challenging for the Spartans. They host Rice Lake from the Big Rivers Conference on Thursday. On Saturday the Spartans host their annual quad tournament. The Spartans will face Chippewa Falls McDonell at 11 a.m. and Ashland at 1 p.m.

The Spartans conclude their MBC schedule next week, with home games against Spooner on Tuesday and Osceola on Thursday.

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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