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Somerset soccer finds it's not at Ashland's level...yet

Somerset goalkeeper Aaron Joppru punts the ball out of harm's way during last Friday's game against Ashland.1 / 2
Somerset senior JT Karis (9) battles with an Ashland player for control of the ball during last Friday's game.2 / 2

Friday's game against Ashland was what the Somerset boys soccer team was pointing toward, with the hopes of proving that the Spartans were as good as any team in the Division 2 sectional tournament bracket.

The Spartans found out they still have some work to do, after they were defeated by the Oredockers 3-0 at the Somerset High School soccer field.

Ashland and Amery were the Division 2 sectional semifinalists from this area last year and Ashland has already defeated Amery 2-1 this season.

The Spartans didn't help their cause by starting slowly. Instead of attacking the ball in the defensive zone, they let Ashland hold the ball. Ashland scored early in the first half, quickly converting a turnover into a goal. The Spartans had very few scoring chances in the first half because Ashland was allowed to possess the ball without much opposition.

"We were just a step slow and our touch was off," Somerset coach Bill Roll said of his team's first half performance.

This was the fifth time the Spartans had faced Ashland in the past three seasons. That includes Ashland knocking the Spartans out of the WIAA playoffs each of the past two years. The Spartans put up a better fight score-wise this time, but they were hoping this was the time they'd finally take down the Dockers. The Spartans did play better in the second half, but Ashland scored in the 54th and 73rd minute to secure the win.

Roll said the Spartans are hoping to see Ashland again in this year's playoffs.

"Now we know exactly what they'll do," Roll said. "Our expectations have changed. They know they have to beat Ashland if they want to accomplish everything they want to this season."

Roll said Ashland defended the Spartans differently than any other team has this season. He said that knowledge will help them as they face other teams which might try the same defensive tactic.

The Spartans did notch a pair of Middle Border Conference wins last week to raise their MBC mark to 3-0. Last Thursday the Spartans won at home against Cumberland 4-0.

This win included a landmark for the Somerset program. Senior Jon Bucklew scored 7:45 into the game, becoming the first Somerset player to ever score 100 goals in his career. This is another highlight in the long list of accomplishments in Bucklew's Somerset career.

The Spartans didn't get their second goal until the 37th minute of the game when Gavin Meader scored off an assist from Bucklew.

The lead was extended to 3-0 when Logan Wiederin scored off a pass from JT Karis in the 62nd minute of the game. Bucklew scored the final goal in the 67th minute off a free kick taken by Josh Lee from near midfield.

"Josh has really been getting involved in the attacking end," Roll said.

The Spartans earned their first road win of the season last Tuesday when they won at Baldwin-Woodville 2-0. The Blackhawks have proven to be a feisty defensive team this season and the Spartans had to fight hard for scoring chances.

"BW does some things defensively that can throw you off," Roll said. "They don't give you a lot of space."

Bucklew got the Spartans on the board in the 13th minute, scoring off an assist from Meader.

Meader scored 10 minutes later, using a header to drive the ball into the net after a pass to the front of the net by Thomas Bauer.

Rivalry game

The next game for the Spartans will be played this Thursday in New Richmond. This has become a strong rivalry and it will be enhanced by both teams' hopes of winning the Middle Border Conference title this season.

The Spartans will play another MBC game next Monday when they travel to Barron.

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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