Nobody said it would be easy for the New Richmond boys soccer team to repeat as sectional champions.
The Tigers played their first game as defending sectional champions last Tuesday, Aug. 22 and the tournament proved to be tough on the Tigers' bodies and on their psyche. The Tigers lost both of their games in the tournament at D.C. Everest and the Tigers lost two of their top returning players to injuries.
In the opening game, the Tigers lost to D.C. Everest, 3-1. That was followed by a 4-1 defeat to Wausau West.
The course of the Tigers' day, and possibly their season, was set in the first 10 minutes of the day's action. D.C. Everest scored three minutes into the opener. Two minutes later, Tiger senior Tyler Blattner suffered a concussion while attempting a header. Less than five minutes later, Tiger senior Sean Flandrick and a D.C. Everest player both went for the ball. Flandrick ended up getting kicked in the leg, suffering a broken bone.
Ten minutes into the season, and the Tigers were forced to rewrite their script, for the game and beyond.
Tiger coach Darian Blattner said he hoped his son would be able to return some time in the near future. Flandrick's injury will likely take longer.
"I'm taking the approach we'll get both boys back," Coach Blattner said. He said Flandrick "eats, sleeps, and drinks the sport of soccer and to have the injury hit for him in his senior season just doesn't seem fair."
It took the Tigers some time to regroup, but they kept the score 1-0 through halftime. They tied the score early in the second half. Brett Mueller fed a pass over the top of the defense to AJ Johnson, who finished to the score 1-1. Everest scored a few minutes later on a penalty kick and got a late goal when the Tigers were pressing in hopes of getting the tying goal.
Johnson also scored the Tigers' lone goal of the second game. He scored nine minutes into the action off a feed from Colton Pahnke, putting New Richmond ahead 1-0. Wausau West led 3-1 at half.
The Tiger coaches tried to remain viewing things in the big picture, giving 22 players at least 10 minutes of game time Tuesday.
"We are still in the evaluation period," Coach Blattner said.
The Tigers will be in action this Thursday, playing at Amery in a non-conference game.