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New Richmond soccer team can't locate its offense

New Richmond's Sydney Simpson (9) slips the ball past Superior goalie Sara Balcer in the first half of the Tigers game in Superior on Thursday afternoon.

The lack of offensive success continues to weigh down the New Richmond girls soccer team.

The Tigers remain winless this season after losing a 1-0 decision at Hayward on Monday.

The Tigers have played well enough in the defensive zone to be competitive in every game. Before Monday's loss in regulation, the Tigers had played four straight overtime games.

In their seven games this season, the Tigers have a total of five goals.

Coach Steve Tesar said the team didn't play with its usual fire at Hayward.

"We came out really flat," he said. "We kept trying to pass the ball through Hayward instead of around them or over them. Our defense played somewhat solid, however they allowed 11 corner kicks. Up to that point we maybe have allowed 11 corner kicks the whole season."

The answers still have to be found for the offense. The Tigers have players who have been successful scorers in the past, but opponents have found ways to shut down the Tigers' attack so far.

"If we don't figure out how to score, we will not be able to win games," Tesar said.

Oh no, overtime

The Tigers began to take a dim view of overtimes after playing in four straight overtime games and losing three of those extra-long games.

The string of overtime games began on April 30 when the Tigers tied Osceola 2-2. The Tigers gave their best effort of the season last Monday, playing Hudson to a scoreless tie in regulation before the Raiders won the game in overtime.

The overtime contests continued when the Tigers lost to Baldwin-Woodville and Superior in Middle Border Conference games last week. The Tigers lost both those games by 2-1 scores.

"The girls are saying they are tired of overtime games," said Tiger coach Steve Tesar. "I think we're in a rut."

Tesar said he's played in close to 500 soccer games and coached another 150 and he's never experienced a team face a string of overtime games like this.

There has been a pattern that has led to the overtimes, Tesar said. He said the Tigers have played well enough in the defensive end to win each of these games. He said the problem is the team isn't capitalizing on its scoring chances.

"We're making good through balls, we're just missing the shots," Tesar said. "We need to get three or four goals a game and we'll be fine."

In the Tigers' past five games, the defense hasn't allowed a first half goal. In the loss to Baldwin-Woodville, the coaches moved senior defender Tiffany Olek to forward in hopes of juicing up the offense. It worked, with Olek scoring three minutes later off an assist from Hannah Hagen. The Tigers couldn't hang onto the lead, as B-W tied the game in the 71st minute.

In the final minute of the overtime the Tigers loaded up the offensive zone for a corner kick, only leaving one defender back. The corner kick landed where several Tigers had a chance to get a shot, but none of them were aggressive to the ball. Instead, B-W quickly cleared the ball, setting up a breakaway that produced the game-winner with 40 seconds remaining.

Against Superior, the Tigers tallied early on a breakaway goal from Sydney Simpson, who scored off an assist from Brianna L'Allier. Simpson would also be involved in a dramatic finish that left the Tigers feeling hurt and angry.

Simpson tried to score on a breakaway in the overtime. The Superior goalie crashed into Simpson, causing the Tiger forward to be injured on the play. The officials did not stop the action and Superior immediately headed right back upfield, scoring against the distracted Tigers.

The Tigers return to action this Thursday with a home game against Amery. On Friday the Tigers play a non-conference game at River Falls. The Tigers are back home next Tuesday for a game against Barron.