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Self-imposed pressure does in Spartan girls soccer team

Elsie Shartin-Folkert (3) scored Somerset’s only goal in the Spartans’ playoff loss to Osceola last week. 1 / 2
Somerset’s Bailey Johnston (right) battles an Osceola player for control of the ball during last Thursday’s playoff game. 2 / 2

The pressure of the WIAA playoffs got to the Somerset girls soccer team last Thursday.

The Spartans were hoping to defeat Osceola after tying and losing to the Chieftains in their two Middle Border Conference games this season. But in the WIAA Division 3 opener at Somerset High School last Thursday, the Spartans struggled to get their offense working in a 3-1 loss to the Chieftains. Osceola advanced to Saturday’s regional championship, where the Chieftains lost to Ashland 6-0.

Somerset coach Erin Wilson-Gehring clearly was at a loss for why the Spartans struggled against Osceola. It was her opinion that the players were putting too much pressure on themselves to perform well in this game against their rival.

“We obviously did not play our best game,” Wilson-Gehring said. “The girls were really apprehensive.”

Osceola had one player who did most of the damage in the game, Stacey Wherley. Her quickness had the Spartans playing cautiously, trying not to allow Wherley any open lanes to the net.

Osceola scored 10 minutes into the game. The score was 2-0 when Somerset got its goal in the game’s 52nd minute. Sophomore Elsie Shartin-Folkert dribbled the ball 40 yards through the Osceola defense, playing the ball past the Chieftain keeper when she came out to challenge Shartin-Folkert.

The Spartans’ momentum was short-lived. Osceola came back to score in the next minute, reestablishing its two-goal lead.

Through the last 15 minutes of the game, the Spartans kept the ball in Osceola’s half of the field, but they weren’t able to generate any more goals.

The Spartans did finish the regular season on a winning note, scoring a 2-1 win at Spooner last Tuesday. The win puts the Spartans in fifth place in the final conference standings with a 7-8-1 record. The seven wins is a vast improvement over the two wins the team generated last season. The Spartans have four seniors on the team: Mary Fohrenkamm, Rachel Helgeson, Cassie Schmidt and Mikayla Simon.

With such a large percentage of the roster set to return for next season, Wilson-Gehring said the expectations will be higher next season.

“We definitely made huge strides,” she said. She said on-field communication and getting people to step up to be bigger scoring threats are main areas of focus as the Spartans build toward next season.

Schmidt notched both of the Spartans’ win at Spooner. The first came in the game’s 17th minute. Schmidt’s initial shot hit the post. She followed the shot and was able to drive the rebound into the net.

Her second goal came from 20 yards out, firing a line drive into the upper corner of the net.

The Spartans controlled the action nearly the entire game. Spooner has one forward who is an excellent scoring threat and she was able to get free to score the Rails’ goal with three minutes left in the game.

Schmidt led a big offensive improvement for the Spartans this season. Somerset finished the season with 33 goals, compared to a year ago, when the team scored 12 goals in the entire season.

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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