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New Richmond soccer falls one game short of WIAA state tournament

The progress of younger players like Teresa Tenner (20) has helped the Tigers to continue to make steady progress throughout the 2017 season.1 / 3
Jhette Gabriel (11), shown earlier in last Thursday’s playoff game against River Falls, scored the deciding goal on a corner kick with 2:20 remaining in the game.2 / 3
New Richmond senior Reese Jacobson (6) stepped up to help the Tigers take momentum late in last Thursday’s sectional semifinal game against River Falls. 3 / 3

The best season in New Richmond girls soccer history came up one game short of the Tigers’ team season-long objective.

The Tigers were hoping to advance to the WIAA state tournament for the first time in program history. The Tigers qualified for the sectional championship game, but that’s where the Tigers suffered their first loss of the season. The Tigers were defeated by Pulaski 2-0 in the WIAA Division 2 sectional championship game that was played Saturday in Marshfield.

The loss was the first of the season for the Tigers, who finished the season with an 18-1-1 record.

This was the second straight sectional championship for Pulaski, who beat River Falls 4-3 to qualify for the state tournament in 2016. Pulaski plays in a conference comprised mainly of Division 1 teams. Its conference champion, Bay Port, advanced to the state tournament in Division 1.

New Richmond coach Tracey Boyle said Pulaski’s experience of playing in the sectional title game was a factor in this year’s game. She said the Tigers weren’t prepared for the actions of the Pulaski coach, who yelled vigorously at his players throughout the game.

“Their coach’s intensity took our girls aback a bit,” Boyle said.

Pulaski and the Tigers play vastly different styles. The Tiger coaches give the players independence to see what is available in the game and try to take advantage of it. Pulaski played an extremely structured style. Boyle said there were things she’d like to use from Pulaski’s style.

“They’ve been taught and told to be in certain places,” Boyle said, which allowed Pulaski to make blind passes and giveand- goes, knowing there would be a teammate in position to take the pass.

The Tigers’ best scoring chance came in the second minute of the game. The Pulaski keeper muffed a shot and the ball rolled toward the goal. There were different opinions on whether the ball went into the net, but the official hadn’t made it to the end line and he ruled that the ball had rolled outside the goalpost.

The wind was a big factor early in the game, helping Pulaski keep the ball in the Tigers’ defensive zone most of the half. Pulaski finally took advantage, scoring at the 37:07 mark on a shot from 20 yards out. The first half ended 1-0.

The Tigers were hoping they’d be able to use the wind to possess the ball in the second half, but it never materialized. Pulaski scored 2:07 into the second half and the Tigers never mounted any major scoring threats in the half.

Boyle said the success this season should give the girls the confidence that they can compete at this level every season. She said the team has a humble quality that will keep the girls driving to improve.

“They need to be very proud and realize what they can do as a team,” she said. “I don’t think they realize how good they are and how good they’ve done.”

The Tigers barely got to the sectional championship game, needing a late charge to beat River Falls in the sectional semifinal game.

Last Thursday’s 2-1 win over River Falls looked like a shooting practice by the Wildcats for the first 75 minutes of the game. River Falls had a huge edge in shots on goal in the game, but Tiger keeper Kerrigan Storie was outstanding, making save after save. The only River Falls goal was scored at the 52:52 mark on a rebound after Storie made a diving deflection on the initial shot.

“She really showed how good she is,” Boyle said of Storie.

The Tigers finally were able to score the tying goal at the 77:49 mark. The play hinged on an effort from senior Reese Jacobson, who carried the ball down the left sideline before making a centering pass. The Wildcats couldn’t clear the ball and Tiger sophomore Sierra Mondry was able to get away a shot that cleanly beat the Wildcat keeper.

The goal energized the Tigers. The Tigers were awarded a corner kick with under three minutes remaining. Freshman Jhette Gabriel took the kick and the result was magical for the Tigers. Her boot curved toward the goal. The River Falls keeper jumped in an effort to deflect the ball, but it glanced off her hands and into the goal, just under the crossbar. This gave the Tigers a 2-1 lead with 2:20 left in the game.

The Tiger girls nearly completed an incredible double accomplishment for the Tiger soccer program. Last fall, the New Richmond varsity boys team qualified for the WIAA state boys tournament for the first time in program history.

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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