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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The Middle Border Conference soccer race has a new contender. The Somerset boys climbed to 3-0 in the 2012 MBC standings by defeating Baldwin-Woodville and Cumberland last week. The Spartans topped Hayward the previous week. The win against Baldwin-Woodville came on the Spartans field last Tuesday, by a 6-0 score. The shutout was the second straight for the Spartans, the first two shutouts in team history. Sophomore Logan Wiederin scored the first goal of Tuesday's game.
One of the most prized treasures of the New Richmond girls tennis team is no longer in the Tigers' possession. After five straight years of winning the Middle Border Conference team tennis tournament trophy, the Tigers watched as Durand took home their prized trophy last fall. The Tigers are focused on returning that showpiece to the NRHS trophy case.
Look anywhere on the soccer field and the 2012 New Richmond boys soccer team returns a well-seasoned player. If the Tigers can find an answer to their need for a new goalkeeper, they could be in line to accomplish some big things this season. The Tigers were MBC co-champions last season, when goalie Jake Miller was the only senior in the starting lineup. This year's Tigers have an intriguing mix of seniors, juniors and sophomores making up their varsity roster. The Tigers play with the poise of an experienced team.
In its fourth year as a varsity program, the Somerset boys soccer team is growing up. The Spartans bring back their most experienced roster and they have a balanced team that is forcing opponents to take them seriously. Last year the Spartans won five games. They are aiming much higher this season, targeting their first advancement into the upper half of the Middle Border Conference standings. Second-year Spartan coach Bill Roll said the team is aiming to finish among the top three teams in the conference this season. "They have higher expectations of themselves," Roll said.
Generating offense doesn't appear to be a problem for the 2012 New Richmond boys soccer team. The Tigers opened the 2012 season last Thursday by decimating their most persistent rival. The Tigers scored four times in the first 19 minutes on their way to an 11-1 win over the Osceola Chieftains. Last year the Tigers shared the Middle Border Conference championship with a 12-2 record and their only significant loss from graduation was first team All-MBC goalkeeper Jake Miller.
The Somerset boys soccer team has visions of being an offensive powerhouse this season. In the second half of the Spartans' game at Hayward last Thursday, that offensive force began to shine through. The Spartans scored five times in the second half to win their 2012 Middle Border Conference opener at Hayward, 6-0. That came two days after the Spartans lost their season opening game to Menomonie in overtime, 4-3. The win at Hayward was a healthy start to the MBC season for the Spartans. The team battled through 38 minutes of the first half before the Spartans scored their first goal.
The New Richmond girls tennis team put together a polished performance last Friday to win the eight-team Altoona Invitational. The tournament, played at the Eau Claire Memorial courts, was based on team match victories. The Tigers defeated East Troy in the opening round, 5-2. In the semifinals the Tigers topped Chippewa Falls 5-2. The championship match was an exciting battle against Baldwin-Woodville, with the Tigers pulling out a 4-3 win to earn the team championship. Balanced production was the reason for the Tigers winning the championship.
With 30 players in grades 10-12, the New Richmond football team knows every member of their squad is being counted upon to contribute in the 2012 season. The low number of players isn't lowering the Tigers' expectations. Tiger coach Jason Eckert said he believes the team can be a contender in the Middle Border Conference. "If we stay healthy, I still expect us to compete toward the top of our conference, to be a playoff team," Eckert said.
Mention football rankings around Somerset coach Bruce Larson at your own risk. The Spartans are the top-ranked Division 3 team in the state in the WSN pre-season football rankings. That is based largely upon Somerset's second place finish in the WIAA state championships last November, but for the Spartans it provides more of a warning than a reason for satisfaction. "Rankings don't mean anything," Larson said bluntly. "We don't even talk about it.
The rallying cry for the St. Croix Central football team this season could be "Remember 2007." The current Panther players may have been middle schoolers back then, but the Panther coaches don't want the 2012 team to fall into the same trap that befell the 2007 team. In 2006, the Central football team won its first conference championship since 1988. Many of the team's key players returned in 2007, but the success didn't.