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Playoff win another first for Somerset boys soccer team

Somerset junior Jon Bucklew (center) uses some fancy footwork to move the ball between Baldwin-Woodville defenders in last Tuesday's playoff game.

There's a pretty lengthy list of firsts accomplished by the Somerset boys soccer team this fall. The Spartans added another first last Tuesday when they recorded their first WIAA playoff victory in the team's four-year history.

The Spartans defeated Baldwin-Woodville 2-1 to advance in the playoffs on Tuesday. The Spartan season came to an end in the second round of the Division 2 playoffs last Thursday. The Spartans traveled to Ashland and were knocked out of the playoffs by the Oredockers, 7-0.

The Somerset season ends with a 14-7-2 record. That's a considerable improvement, considering Somerset had won a total of 11 games over the first three years of the program's varsity existence.

The first winning record, the first playoff win, the first win over Amery and the first shutouts in team history ranked among the most significant achievements of the Spartans this season. Somerset coach Bill Roll said each of those was a big step in the team's growth. He said that next season, the team will be working toward an even higher standard.

"I anticipate next year the team that will be more focused on the big picture," Roll said. "We've got bigger goals and bigger things we want to accomplish."

Bigger is a key word in the Spartans' plans. As a team that's on the small side physically, Roll said improved physical strength has to be at the top of the team's priority list. The Spartans want to compete with Amery, Ashland and New Richmond next year and Roll said they need more strength to do it.

"We've got to get guys in the weight room, get them doing BFS (Bigger Faster Stronger)," Roll said. "Hopefully, we can motivate our guys in the next nine months to get stronger and faster."

The Spartans graduate two starters in defenders Nate Olin and Jeremy Bucklew, but they are also the most physical players in the Spartan lineup.

The difference in size and strength showed up during the playoff loss at Ashland. Somerset and Ashland play similar soccer styles, but Ashland's superior speed took over the game. The Spartans played well for the first 10 minutes of the game, but once Ashland got the lead, the Spartans were forced to play to the Dockers' style.

The Spartans had their hands full when they played Baldwin-Woodville in the opening round of the Division 2 playoffs last Tuesday. B-W scored first, but Somerset got two goals from Jon Bucklew to secure a 2-1 victory.

Baldwin-Woodville was buoyed by the return of Adam Rominski, who was playing in his second game after missing much of the season due to an injury.

"He was probably their best player last year," Roll said. "Baldwin gets better every time we see them."

The Blackhawks scored 7:53 into the game. Somerset tied the score when Bucklew used an assist from Sean Wells to score at the 24:06 mark.

The deciding goal was scored by Bucklew on a penalty kick. Bucklew was taken down inside the 18-yard box. His low shot cleanly beat the B-W keeper. The goal was the 48th of the season for Bucklew, a total that rankest highest in the state this season. His 114 points for the season also leads all the high school players in the state this fall. The next closest player has tallied 90 points this season.