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Somerset soccer starts strongly, still learning to finish

Somerset's Cassie Schmidt (5) battles an Amery player for control of the ball during last Thursday's game.

In both of its Middle Border Conference games last week, the Somerset girls soccer team played sharply in the first half of the contests.

The Spartans competed well with Superior and Amery in their road games last week, but both times they came away with 2-1 defeats.

In last Tuesday's game at Superior, Somerset held the lead until there were four minutes left in regulation. Somerset took the lead in the game when Elsie Folkert scored her first varsity goal. Alyssa Kelly set up the goal with an excellent crossing pass. Folkert was able to run onto the pass and she carried the ball the rest of the way goalward.

Superior got the tying goal after the Spartans were called for tripping with four minutes remaining. Superior scored on the penalty kick, with a high shot out of the reach of the Somerset goalkeeper.

In Thursday's game at Amery, the Spartans battled evenly with the Warriors for much of the game. For most of the game the Spartans were the more active team, hustling after the ball and making a number of charges toward the Amery goal.

Amery scored first, on a goal by Ashley Waalen. Somerset answered back, with Cassie Schmidt scoring off a feed from Mallory Conrad. The score was tied 1-1 at halftime and it remained that way until the final 10 minutes of the game.

Amery's entire offense hinged on breaking Waalen free for breakaways. That ploy worked again, with Waalen breaking free for her second goal of the game.

Somerset coach Erin Wilson said the team did a much better job of keeping tabs on Waalen, who scored five times against the Spartans a year ago.

"Our goal was to not let (Waalen) have the ball," Wilson said. "I thought we did well. Every ball was going to her."

Wilson said the lack of varsity experience shows in the team struggling to maintain its intensity through the full 80 minutes of varsity games.

"In both games I thought we controlled the first half," Wilson said, saying the team needs to build its stamina to play at that level in the second half.

The Spartans are now in a string of five straight home contests. On Thursday they will host Barron in a Middle Border Conference game. The Spartans will hold their annual quad tournament this Saturday, with Amery, Bayfield and Eau Claire North joining in. Next week starts with a home game against Baldwin-Woodville on Monday and another home contest on Tuesday against Spooner.