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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Last week was filled with unplanned readjustments for the St. Croix Central volleyball team. The previous Friday, senior team captain Laura DeSmith decided to leave the team. As a three-year setter and one of the best defensive players in the Dunn-St. Croix Conference, DeSmith's departure left the Panthers with a major retooling in the middle of a busy season. With last week spent in transition, the Panthers lost their conference matches played against Plum City and Spring Valley. They lost to Plum City 25-21, 25-13, 25-13 on Tuesday.
Friday's 46-0 win by the Somerset football team locked up a spot in the WIAA playoffs for the Spartans, but there are several higher objectives remaining for the Spartans to accomplish this season. The Spartans will play at home again this Friday, with winless Baldwin-Woodville as the opponent. This will be the third straight game for the Spartans against a sub-.500 opponent. The Spartan coaches have been stressing improvement in these games, because the following Friday, Somerset and Durand clash in the game that will likely decide the 2012 Middle Border Conference championship.
The defense has been carrying the load for the New Richmond Tigers during the first half of the 2012 football season. On Friday the offense stepped up its production considerably and the Tigers were able to earn their first victory of the season. The win came at Ellsworth, 14-7, ruining the Panthers' Homecoming festivities. The Tiger defense was superb in Friday's game, limiting Ellsworth to 126 yards of offense. In comparison, the Tiger offense was able to generate 326 yards of offense. From the first drive of the game, the Tiger offense played with more confidence.
There was no question which team stood atop the Middle Border Conference when the 2012 MBC girls golf tournament was completed at the New Richmond Golf Club last Wednesday. A record-smashing performance by the New Richmond girls locked up the 2012 conference championship for the Tigers. New Richmond's girls finished with a team score of 328, shattering their 18-hole scoring record that had been set early this season at Pheasant Hills Golf Club.
The schedule maker for the Middle Border Conference laid out three straight critical games for the New Richmond boys soccer team this week in the Tigers' hopes of winning the 2012 conference title. The Tigers handled the first of those three assignments like...tigers. They pounced on Somerset from the opening kick and devoured the Spartans in the first half. New Richmond concentrated on defense in the second half in winning 3-0. The second of the MBC assignments for the Tigers was scheduled for Tuesday at Amery.
Last Thursday's overtime win against Middle Border Conference leader Amery should go down as the most significant win in the short history of the Somerset boys soccer program. But when the Spartans tried to follow up with another peak performance on Monday, they couldn't do it. The Spartans played a stagnant first half in a 3-0 loss at New Richmond that ended Somerset's slim hopes of winning an MBC title this season. Somerset's first half performance on Monday was shocking because it was such a vast departure from the team's play against Amery.
The final score of last Friday's Somerset-New Richmond football game might not have been reflected in the reactions of the teams following the game. Somerset won the game 28-7, raising the Spartans season record to 4-0. Despite the win, the Spartans were quiet and subdued over their performance. The Tigers dropped to 0-4 for the season, but the Tigers were markedly upbeat over what was perceived by the team as its strongest showing of the season. By Somerset's standards, the Spartans did not play their sharpest game.
Another one-stroke win over Osceola has the New Richmond girls golf team on the verge of winning the Middle Border Conference title. The Tigers carry a six-point lead into this Wednesday's MBC 18-hole tournament, which will be played at the New Richmond Golf Club. The Tigers have only lost once in MBC action this season, to Osceola on the Chieftains' home turf. New Richmond earned a narrow win on Monday, shooting a 179 to beat Osceola by one stroke at NRGC. New Richmond was able to win on Monday by getting four players to score in the 40s.
When the offense gets on a roll, the New Richmond boys soccer team can be downright overwhelming. The Tigers showed that twice last week. On Tuesday the Tigers rolled past Osceola 9-1. The Tigers were even more crisp last Thursday, scoring nine times in the first half in a 10-0 win over Hayward. These games completed a stretch of six games in eight days for the Tigers, so once the Tigers established significant leads, the coaches relied on reserve players for most of the rest of the game. Sophomore Luke Landaal proved to be the offensive spark for the Tigers at Osceola.
It became apparent early in the Middle Border Conference girls tennis season that last Thursday's match between New Richmond and Baldwin-Woodville would decide the likely champion of the MBC dual meet season. New Richmond's girls were hoping to add a sixth straight MBC dual meet title to their trophy case this year, but those hopes were extinguished when B-W scored a 6-1 on the Blackhawks' courts. The Tigers were scheduled to complete their dual meet schedule this week with matches against Amery on Tuesday and at Durand on Thursday.