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New Richmond soccer learning to capitalize on scoring chances

New Richmond’s Sydney Simpson prepares to send a header upfield as a pass during the Tigers 3-0 win over Somerset last Thursday. 1 / 2
New Richmond’s Sophia Thommes (19) uses her foot to bring down a bouncing ball during last Thursday’s game against Somerset. 2 / 2

The importance of capitalizing on scoring chances was clear to the New Richmond girls soccer team in its two games last week.

New Richmond and Superior battled for the Middle Border Conference lead on the Tigers’ homefield last Tuesday. Superior did a better job of capitalizing on its opportunities to defeat the Tigers 4-2.

When the Tigers hosted Somerset last Thursday, the Tigers showed a better ability to get goals out of quality scoring chances. The Tigers scored three times in the first half and that lead stood up in a 3-0 Tiger victory.

This leaves the Tigers in second place in the MBC with a 10-2-1 record. Superior was 10-0 in the MBC after beating the Tigers.

The main problem for the Tigers, and all of Superior’s opponents, is stopping Malley O’Brien. O’Brien is the leading scorer in the state, who ended the game with 29 goals and 66 points. O’Brien figured into all four of Superior’s goals against the Tigers.

Superior scored first, 25 minutes into the game. A wet ball spun away from New Richmond goalkeeper Caty Brayall and O’Brien was waiting, quickly popping the ball into the net.

The Tigers answered within seconds. Senior Tina Montpetit scored off the ensuing kickoff.

The game didn’t stay tied long. O’Brien scored again in the 28th minute as the Tigers weren’t prepared for a quick shot she took off a direct kick.

Superior added another first half goal from Bridget Manion and Manion scored again eight minutes into the second half.

New Richmond’s second goal was scored in the 67th minute. Sydney Simpson was able to split the Superior defense to get free for a breakaway goal.

New Richmond coach Steve Tesar said Superior only had eight scoring chances in the game, but were able to score on half of them.

“They know how to capitalize on chances,” Tesar said.

The Tigers didn’t get many scoring chances against Somerset, but they did make the most of them early in the game.

One area where the Tigers have been pushing to be more successful is by crashing the net and being more aggressive toward the ball in the goalie box. That was a key factor Thursday, because the Tigers scored twice off shots that the Somerset keeper couldn’t control.

The first of those goals was scored by Montpetit, less than 10 minutes into the game. A shot was blocked, but came free and Montpetit quickly got control of the ball and put her shot away.

A second goal of nearly the same fashion was scored by Cassie Kletschka. She was inches away from the goalie as the shot arrived and when the ball wasn’t handled cleanly, Kletschka immediately stuffed it into the net.

The Tigers’ speed gave Somerset problems all night. It also provided the Tigers’ third goal. A perfectly placed pass from Harley Leavens was lofted beyond Somerset’s last wall of defenders. Simpson was moving at full speed when Leavens launched the ball, allowing Simpson to streak past the Spartan defenders and head in for the breakaway goal.

Tesar said the Tigers weren’t as sharp in the second half. He said the team was dealing with a lot of distractions, such as a Thursday school concert and graduation on Friday.

The Tigers are scheduled to complete their regular season in the upcoming days. They will play at Barron on Thursday, before finishing the regular season at Superior on Monday. Tesar said the Tigers are hoping that some team can upset Superior before that game, so that the Tigers will still have a chance to win a share of the conference title when the game is played.

The voting for the seeding for the WIAA Division 2 regional tournament bracket is expected to be completed midweek. The Tigers are in a bracket with Holmen, La Crosse Central, La Crosse Logan, Menomonie, Onalaska, River Falls and Tomah. Tesar said he was hoping the Tigers would get seeded somewhere in the middle of the eight-team bracket.

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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