Spartans show they can play defense
The second win of the season and a defensive gem were the results for the Somerset boys soccer team in its two games last week.
The Spartans earned their second win of the season Tuesday, Oct. 4 when they went to Spooner, recording a 3-1 win over the Rails. The Spartans hosted Middle Border Conference leader Amery last Thursday. The Spartans showed they've learned how to play defense this season. They put up a tough battle throughout the 90 minutes of rain, losing to the Warriors 3-0.
Somerset made two trips to Spooner last week. The game was originally scheduled for Monday, but it was stopped after 13 minutes due to lightning. Somerset led 1-0 at the time, but that goal from Aaron Shartin-Folkert didn't count as the two teams started fresh the next afternoon.
When the game was rebooted, neither team could manage a goal in the first half. Spooner scored off a penalty kick eight minutes into the second half.
"That motivated the guys a little bit," said Somerset coach Bill Roll.
The Spartans got a needed break 10 minutes later. Elliot Olin booted a long through ball ahead to Eli DeJongh. The ball was just out of DeJongh's reach, but the ball did strike a Spooner defender. That redirected the ball enough where it caromed into the Spooner net.
"That was the spark we needed, honestly," Roll said.
Somerset now had the momentum. Two minutes later, Shartin-Folkert sent a short through ball to James Clute. Clute was able to release his shot just before he collided with the Spooner keeper. The shot went in and Clute went down. He injured a foot, causing him to be unavailable for the game at Amery.
With the injury to Clute, Erik Osorio was moved from defense to Clute's forward position. In the 80th minute, Osorio scored Somerset's final goal. Logan Giossi sent a pass ahead to Osorio, who was able to get behind the defense. While cutting in from the right side, he was able to cleanly beat the Spooner keeper.
The Spartans went to a novel defensive plan Thursday against Amery and it worked well. The Spartans made a major commitment to defense, dropping their midfielders deep into the defensive zone. And after Amery's Galen Coy scored the first goal of the day, Roll took the defensive plan another step further. He had Olin shadow Coy the rest of the game. Amery got one more goal in the first half and one in the second half, but the Warriors had to work hard for every shot they got.
Roll said Osorio's effort on defense was one of the keys.
"Erik's done a really nice job since we moved him back there," Roll said. "Erik really solidifies one side of the defense for us."
When these teams met earlier in the season, Amery won 10-0. Roll said another reason for the close game Thursday was the work of Spartan keeper Brennan Sheridan.
"He made some fantastic saves," Roll said.
The Spartans are scheduled to complete their regular season this week with a home game against Baldwin-Woodville on Thursday and a game at Menomonie on Friday. The Spartans will then shift their plans to the WIAA Division 3 tournament series. It's likely the Spartans will get the eighth seed in the regional bracket, with seeding voting being held this week. If the Spartans do get the eighth seed, they will open tournament play at home next Tuesday by hosting the ninth seed, which likely will be Spooner.