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Somerset soccer team can't run with Rice Lake

Somerset’s Tayva Strom (2) carries the ball into the offensive half of the field during Saturday’s game against Rice Lake.

The speed possessed by the Rice Lake girls soccer team has caused problems for the Somerset squad when the two teams have met in past seasons.

That was the case again when they met in the opening game of Somerset’s annual quad tournament on Saturday. Somerset limited the Warriors to one goal in the first half, but the Spartans couldn’t maintain Rice Lake’s pace in the second half. The Warriors pulled away for a 7-0 victory.

The Spartans were much more competitive in the second round of the tournament. They faced Bayfield, which edged the Spartans 2-1. The two losses leave the Spartans with a 4-8-1 season record. The tournament games were the final regular season home contests for the Spartans. Their final six games are all on the road.

The Spartans were supposed to play at Superior last Friday, but this game was postponed for a second time because of wet grounds in Superior. Superior declined Somerset’s offer to play the game in Somerset. A third try to play the game in Superior will be made this Friday.

Rice Lake hasn’t fared well in the Big Rivers Conference, but outside the BRC the Warriors have done quite well. That was the case again on Saturday. Rice Lake played a fast, aggressive style that stretched Somerset’s defense to its limit. The Spartans were encouraged by their play in the first half. But in the second half, Rice Lake was able to get point-blank shots as they raced past Spartan defenders in the middle of the field.

Somerset coach Erin Wilson-Gehring said the Spartan defense got caught bringing the ball back into the middle of the field instead of trying to work the ball upfield along the perimeter of the field. When the Spartans turned the ball over in the middle of the field, it gave Rice Lake chances to quickly turn those turnovers into scoring chances.

In the second game, the Spartans were much more competitive. But twice, once in each half, they got caught where they were unable to get the ball out of the middle of the field, and Bayfield scored off both of the opportunities.

The Spartans got their goal with eight minutes remaining in the action. Senior Cassie Schmidt scored off a direct kick from just outside the 18-yard box.

This is another demanding week for the Spartans, with road games against the Middle Border Conference leaders on back-to-back nights. On Thursday, the Spartans are scheduled to play at New Richmond and that’s followed by the attempt to play at Superior again this Friday. Next week starts with the Spartans playing at Barron next Tuesday.

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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