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Somerset girls soccer sweeps games against Osceola

Somerset senior Anna Rybacki (5) wins a battle for control of the ball in a recent Spartan game against Barron. Dave Newman / RiverTown Multimedia

Playing the same time on back-to-back days is rare and can be awkward.

Or in the case of the Somerset girls soccer team, it can be successful, then even more successful.

The Spartans faced Osceola last Thursday and Friday. Thursday's game was the non-conference game, played on Osceola's artificial turf. The speed of the artificial turf threw off Somerset's offensive timing by just a touch, but the reliable Spartan defense did everything that was needed to preserve a 1-0 victory.

Friday's game was the Middle Border Conference contest between the two teams. The offensive things that were missing by an eyelash for the Spartans on Thursday were working as smoothly as silk on Friday. By halftime the Spartans had scored five goals, and they finished with a 6-2 victory.

While the offensive play was impressive on Friday, a defensive move may have been what turned the game in the Spartans' favor. During Thursday's game, Osceola goalkeeper Regan Ekstrom suffered a knee injury. Ekstrom was an All-MBC goalie last year, but she's a talent anywhere on the soccer field. So for Friday's game, the Osceola coaches moved Ekstrom to forward. And twice during the early stages of the game, Ekstrom was able to get free for goals.

One of Somerset's strengths is the team possesses several veteran defenders who each have a unique skill set. Somerset coach Bill Roll decided to have senior Bryanna Sengbusch shadow Ekstrom. Sengbusch took away Osceola's main scoring threat, and it gave the Spartans time to turn a 2-1 deficit into a 5-2 lead by halftime.

"Bryanna has good speed and she's really good 1V1," said Roll.

For the second half, Osceola moved Ekstrom back to goalkeeper.

The Spartan offense was clicking in the first half. Senior Anna Rybacki scored three times and classmates Hannah Waskosky and Anya Swanson also scored in the first half.

The Spartans got one goal in the second half, but Roll said it was one to remember. Rybacki made a strong charge with the ball toward the left edge of the Osceola goal. She fired a pass parallel to the goal line. Swanson was making a charge toward the middle of the goal, but recognized she wouldn't be able to get much on a kick, so she let the ball pass her. Cutting down the right side of the goal was sophomore Liv Hoff. She took the pass in stride and struck a hard shot that found the corner of the goal for her first score of the season. Roll said that is the type of play it takes to beat a keeper of Ekstrom's quality.

Roll said that a game earlier this season had been the Spartans' best performance of the season, but he amended that after Friday's game.

"The last 70 minutes (after Ekstrom's second goal) was the best we played this season," Roll said.

Roll said the Spartans also had some quality work done in their goal last week by senior Taylor Sporleder.

"She stepped up and was really on her game," Roll said.

The only goal in last Thursday's 1-0 win was scored by Rybacki, off an assist from Waskosky.

The only setback last week for the Spartans was a 4-1 loss against Hayward last Tuesday. Don't let the final score mislead you. This was a gritty game that was scoreless for 64 minutes. Somerset scored first, on a goal from Waskosky. She took a corner kick, tapping the ball out to Swanson. When defenders didn't charge, Waskosky took a shot from a tough angle that found the near upper corner of the net.

Hayward came back with a vengeance. The Hurricanes tied the score four minutes later, then took the lead five minutes after that.

"They are a good team. They capitalized on our mistakes," Roll said.

The Spartans face a less intense schedule this week, with two non-conference games. They will play at Altoona on Tuesday, before hosting Washburn Thursday in Somerset's final home game of the regular season. Next week starts with the Spartans playing Monday at Baldwin-Woodville and Tuesday at Amery.

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 more than 30 years.

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