For the second straight season, the New Richmond girls soccer team had its season end in the WIAA sectional tournament, losing to the team that would represent the section at the state tournament.
Last year, the Tigers lost to Pulaski in the WIAA Division 2 sectional championship game. On Thursday, the Tigers saw their dreams of a state tournament trip end when they lost at River Falls in the sectional semifinal game, 1-0. River Falls defeated Pulaski, 2-0, on Saturday to win the 2018 sectional championship. River Falls will play at 11 a.m. on Thursday in the Division 2 state semifinals against Brookfield Central.
The Tigers have lost a total of three games in the past two seasons and two of those losses came at the sectional tournament. The other was early this season against River Falls.
The only goal of the New Richmond-River Falls game came in the 38th minute. Tiger coach Tracey Boyle gave her team a scouting report that the Wildcats like to get scoring attempts on crossing passes to the front of the goal. This time it worked, with Ella Durocher leaping in front of the net to redirect a pass from Gina Filkins into the net. There was some controversy because it appeared the ball had struck Durocher's hand, but the officials ruled that it was a goal.
The other best scoring chance for either team came 12 minutes into the game. River Falls tried another cross and it carried to the back post, where a Wildcat was left unmarked. What appeared to be an easy goal was negated when Tiger sophomore Maya Greenquist lunged in to knock the ball out of bounds.
In both halves, the Tigers started tentatively and grew more assertive as the halves rolled on. Boyle said she was concerned about that, knowing the girls have a tendency to make sure the defensive end of the field is secured before they start building the offense. The Tigers' best scoring chances of the game came during the final 15 minutes. An example of the Wildcats' ability to take away the Tigers' scoring chances was reflected in the fact that the Tigers didn't get their first corner kick until the 78th minute of the game.
The Tigers reached sectionals this season with only one senior starter, midfielder Alli Preece. There are clearly hopes that the Tigers will be advancing to sectionals again next season. Boyle said she was highly impressed with how this season's young team dealt with incredible adversity in the offseason, including the death of a teammate and the team manager.
"I'm so proud of the season the girls had. With all the circumstances against them, they really stepped up," Boyle said.