Somerset soccer shuts out four straight opponents
After a beastly four-game stretch where they faced Ashland, Amery, New Richmond and Barron, the Somerset boys have bounced back with four straight shutouts in Middle Border Conference soccer play.
The shutouts have come against Spooner, Osceola, Hayward and Baldwin-Woodville, with the Spartans outscoring their opponents 30-0 in the four games.
In the last two games the Spartans put away Hayward and Baldwin-Woodville by identical 7-0 scores.
The Spartans’ recent offensive success has vaulted seniors Jon Bucklew and Gavin Meader to the top of the state scoring leader list. Bucklew finished the week with 61 points, which led the state. Meader has 56 points, which is tied for second in the state. Meader is tied for second in the state with 24 goals scored and Bucklew is one behind him with 23 goals. Bucklew leads the state with 15 assists.
Meader was the standout in Thursday’s win over Baldwin-Woodville, but that should be no surprise. Meader’s career success against the Blackhawks has been mind-boggling. He scored four goals in Thursday’s win. It is the third straight year where Meader has scored four goals in one game against Baldwin-Woodville.
Somerset coach Bill Roll said the success of Meader and Bucklew happens because their styles complement each other so well. Bucklew excels at moving with the ball and passing. Those skills mesh with Meader’s ability to finish off scoring chances around the net and his ability to bust free on breakaways.
Baldwin-Woodville plays a tight, attacking defense that gave the Spartans trouble early in Thursday’s game. The Spartans didn’t score until the 22nd minute when Meader bagged his first goal. He scored again nine minutes later and the Spartans carried the 2-0 lead into halftime.
Logan Wiederin scored 70 seconds into the second half to get the Spartans rolling. Bucklew and Meader scored 27 seconds apart midway through the second half.
Senior Thomas Bauer scored the Spartans’ final goal. It was the second straight game where Bauer scored, his first two goals of the season.
Roll said getting players like Bauer and JT Karis more involved in the scoring makes the Spartans a more difficult team to defend.
The Spartans wasted no time in taking control in last Tuesday’s game at Hayward. Meader scored two minutes into the game. Bucklew then reeled off three goals in the next 15 minutes of action. Bauer and Wiederin also scored.
The final goal was produced by senior defender Jake Scott. He was moved to forward for part of the second half and it resulted in his first varsity goal.
The four shutouts give the Spartans eight for the season in their first 13 games. Aaron Joppru has been in goal for all eight. He’s now averages one goal allowed per game. The Spartans had six shutouts last season, the first six in program history.
“We’re playing better defense this season,” Roll said. “It gets overlooked because of the offense.”
The Spartans begin the second stretch of difficult opponents this Thursday when they play at Amery. The next three games will all be at home, starting with games next Monday and Tuesday against New Richmond and Barron. Those three games will likely decide the MBC championship. Somerset, New Richmond and Amery are tightly packed at the top of the MBC standings. A week from Thursday the Spartans will host Rice Lake, which is one of the teams that will battle Somerset for the top seed in the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament bracket.