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Incredible comeback puts New Richmond soccer team in MBC lead

New Richmond senior Tina Montpetit (in white) races the ball up the field with a Baldwin-Woodville midfielder in hot pursuit. Montpetit’s leadership has been a key ingredient in the Tigers’ success this season.

New Richmond’s girls soccer team has moved into the Middle Border Conference lead and it took one of the most stunning comebacks in team history to get the Tigers there.

The Tigers rallied from a 3-0 deficit to defeat Baldwin-Woodville 4-3 in overtime. New Richmond senior Tina Montpetit scored the winning goal with a few seconds remaining in the first overtime period.

The Tigers trailed B-W 3-0 last Thursday, 44 minutes into the showdown for the MBC lead. To that point, the Tigers had been giving extra defensive attention to Baldwin-Woodville’s leading scorer. Trailing 3-0, the Tigers scrapped that idea. Instead, they put two more girls in the offensive end of the field and it paid immediate dividends.

B-W took the 3-0 lead at the 44-minute mark. The Tigers answered back at 44:25. Montpetit passed the ball to the far corner, where Chrissy Kletschka chased it down. Kletschka sent the ball back toward the front of the net. Montpetit was left uncovered and easily tapped the ball into the Blackhawk goal.

Ten minutes later, Sydney Simpson missed on a breakaway attempt. The Tigers kept the ball in play and it went to Simpson again. She split a pair of Blackhawk defenders and when the goalie came out to challenge her, Simpson accurately placed her shot just inside the far post for the goal.

The Tigers now had B-W reeling. With 10 minutes left in regulation, the Tigers tied the score. Simpson got the ball at the outer edge of the goalie box and saw that the B-W keeper was out of position. She lobbed a shot over the heads of B-W defenders in her path, to the far corner of the goal.

The momentum stayed with the Tigers in the overtime as they kept most of the action in the Blackhawks’ end of the field. Late in the overtime, a handball call was made. There was some question where the foul occurred, but the officials ruled that it happened just inside the goalie box. Montpetit took the penalty kick from 13 yards out, which squarely hit the crossbar. The ball bounced right back to her and she didn’t miss with her second shot.

B-W had been leading the conference in this game. Tiger coach Steve Tesar said this was a landmark game in the team’s history, not only for making such a large comeback, but doing it against a top opponent.

“Everyone stepped up and did their part,” Tesar said.

The Tigers also scored a significant win in team history last Tuesday, winning for the first time at Hayward. The Tigers were able to score in the 18th minute and that goal stood until the final minutes, when the Tigers scored again to win 2-0.

Hayward plays on a field that is much narrower than New Richmond’s and the Hurricanes have learned to defend that field well.

They couldn’t stop Montpetit when the Tigers were awarded a penalty kick in the 18th minute. She launched a shot from 25 yards out, from a hard angle. She was able to place her shot in the upper corner, just inside the far post.

“It was one of the most beautiful direct kicks I’ve seen for a goal,” Tesar said.

The other goal came off a misplay by the Hurricanes. A Hayward defender thought she was playing the ball back to the goalkeeper, but the keeper had moved up near her. The ball rolled untouched into the Hayward goal.

Hayward was able to get a number of scoring chances. The Tiger defense stood up to the challenge, led by keeper Caty Brayall and middle defenders Morgan Graham and Sophia Thommes.

Getting Hudson’s attention

The Tigers went into Friday’s game against Hudson knowing they were underdogs. But that didn’t stop them from putting together a herculean effort at the start of the game that had Hudson on the ropes. Hudson managed to gradually take control, defeating the Tigers 4-1.

New Richmond got the opening goal of the game on a huge effort from Cassie Kletschka. Simpson sent a pass to Kletschka as she slashed down the center of the field. Kletschka and a Hudson defender ran shoulder-to-shoulder, with the Hudson player giving Kletschka several hard bumps in an effort to knock her off the ball. Kletschka maintained control and fired a shot that went off the hands of the Hudson keeper and into the goal, just under the crossbar.

Her goal came at the 9:59 mark and the Tigers barely missed another goal minutes later when Gaby Cruz’s shot sailed just over the crossbar.

The Tigers battled evenly with the Raiders until Hudson got the tying goal in the game’s 29th minute. The Raiders scored again before halftime and then twice in the second half.

The Tigers continue their pursuit of the MBC title this Thursday when they host Somerset. That is the Tigers’ final home game of the regular season. They end with three road games, the first of which will be played at Amery 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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