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Soccer: Second time around is Spartans' chance to improve

Somerset's Ethan Midbrod looks to clear the ball out of the defensive zone during the first half of last week's game in New Richmond. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Improvement showed in two forms for the Somerset boys soccer team during its games last week.

The Somerset boys improved by three goals if their scores against Hayward are a true indication. When Somerset and Hayward met in the first week of the season, the Hurricanes took a 3-0 win. In the rematch last week, the game ended in a 2-2 tie and the Spartans nearly ended the game with a win.

A different form of improvement showed when the Spartans faced New Richmond last Thursday. The Spartans gave up eight goals in a less than sterling performance in the first half. But the Spartans pulled themselves together in the second half, giving up two goals in 33 minutes before New Richmond could complete the 10-0 win.

Last week's games were both Middle Border Conference contests, so the Spartans earned their first conference point with the tie against Hayward. For a team scrapping for scoring, the two goals were a big step in the right direction.

Freshman Aaron Shartin-Folkert scored Somerset's opening goal. It was his third goal of the season, scoring once in three straight games for the Spartans. Shartin-Folkert made a heads-up play, literally, to produce the goal. He and the Hayward goalkeeper were converging toward the ball. Shartin-Folkert reached it first, heading it past the sprawling keeper. Shartin-Folkert then raced around the keeper to slap the ball into the goal.

Somerset coach Bill Roll said Shartin-Folkert's skills are emerging with each passing game.

"He was the best ball handler on the field. He was making guys miss left and right," Roll said.

The second Spartan point was produced by senior Elliot Olin. He drove a shot past the Hayward keeper from 25 yards out on a direct free kick.

Somerset was in position to win, but Hayward put on heavy pressure in the final minutes of the game. That pressure finally got results, with Hayward getting the tying goal with less than two minutes left in the game.

The New Richmond game was the second time this season the Spartans have been beaten 10-0. The young team sometimes struggles to connect all its parts together and that was clear in the first half, when Somerset struggled to get the ball out of its defensive zone.

"I didn't think we had a great effort in the first half," Roll said. "When our guys play with a high level of intensity and energy, we're definitely better. You could see that in the Hayward game."

The Spartans hope that improved effort level continues, because they'll be busy. They host Unity on Friday before playing in a tournament at Rice Lake on Saturday, where they'll face Superior and Rice Lake. The Spartans are right back in action next Monday with a game at winless Spooner.

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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