Soccer: Tigers roll, Spartans suffer first loss
There was little suspense in Monday's girls soccer game at New Richmond. The Tigers were coming into the game hungry after starting the season with difficult games against Hudson, Onalaska and Holmen. The suspense was lessened further when Osceola showed up missing a half dozen veteran players.
If there was any suspense left, the Tigers took care of it by scoring five goals in the first 10 minutes and 10 seconds of the game.
Six different Tigers scored in the first half as the Tigers built a 6-0 lead at the break. They reached the 10-goal limit at the 57:26 mark to win 10-0.
Anna Hop, Amelia Feuerer and Maya Greenquist each scored two goals and Shelby Pahnke, Jhette Gabriel, Kialie Malone and Meghan Schleicher scored single goals for the Tigers.
Coach Tracey Boyle said the game served as a chance to get the offense rolling after the difficult opening games. The Tigers don't have another game until next Monday when they play at Somerset. Boyle said the extended break comes at a perfect time, because the coaches have a number of items they want to work on in upcoming practices.
Hop, one of the team's seniors, said the team's confidence was shaken when they came out of the first three games without a win and only having scored one goal.
"That was an eye opener," Hop said of the difficult start, "because we did so well last year. They only way we'll get there is to work as hard as we did last year."
Hop said the blend of scoring Monday is part of what makes the Tigers so successful, that so many girls are capable of scoring.
"We all connect so well. The first three games, we weren't able to put the connections together as well as we wanted," Hop said.
The season did not start like the Tigers had envisioned. After their first three games, the Tigers were without a win. They played two games against teams within the WIAA regional bracket on Saturday and they came home with a tie and a loss. The Tigers and Onalaska finished scoreless Saturday morning. In the second game of the day, the Tigers lost at Holmen, 3-1.
The Tigers started the season by going five halves without scoring a goal. They finally scored their first goal of the season in the second half, when sophomore Shelby Pahnke got a shot past the Holmen keeper. But by that time, they were trailing 3-1.
"It's definitely a slower start than we expected," said Boyle.
In both games, Boyle said the Tigers passed the ball well, but they aren't putting away the shots. Boyle is looking for more hunger from her players.
"They're lacking the competitiveness and motivation. We're almost too nice. They have all the skills," Boyle said.
The Tigers played short-handed on defense, with two starters missing and another hobbled by injury. Boyle said the Tigers were able to overcome their absence against Onalaska, but Holmen was able to find ways to take advantage of their lack of experience on defense.
The Tigers drew one of the toughest possible assignments in western Wisconsin in their season opener last Tuesday, playing at Hudson. Though the Tigers lost 6-0, the game served several purposes. Hudson is a state-caliber Division 1 team. Boyle said Hudson is likely as good "or better" than any team the Tigers would face in a Division 2 sectional tournament.
Boyle said the Tigers competed evenly with Hudson for the first 20-25 minutes of the game. Hudson then scored twice. By halftime the Raiders led 3-0.
The Tiger coaches are hoping this game eliminates any complacency the team might have.
"To see a team of this caliber was a good reality check for us, to realize we need to keep improving," Boyle said. "We have all the talent and skill back and we have a good team dynamic."
The Spartans tried a number of combinations in hopes of finding a scoring source, but they weren't able to light up the scoreboard on Monday. They lost a home Middle Border Conference game against Hayward, 2-0. This was Somerset's first loss of the season after starting the season with three wins and a tie.
This game was doubly damaging for the Spartans. It puts them behind Hayward in the MBC standings and Hayward is also one of the teams in Somerset's regional bracket. This is the third straight year where the Hurricanes have defeated the Spartans by a 2-0 score.
The game was scoreless until the final seconds of the first half when Hayward scored off a cross out of the left corner. Somerset coach Bill Roll said he was worried about how the team would come out of halftime, but he was pleased with the intensity the girls took into the second half. Hayward got its second goal with 15 minutes left in the game off a rebound from a free kick.
Roll said Brycen Chladek led the efforts among the Spartans, saying she was playing with such intensity that he tried her at forward in hopes of finding a scoring source.
After three games in five days, the Spartans now have a break until Saturday, when they play at Menomonie.
Playing on consecutive nights this early in the season tested the Spartans' endurance, but they were able to withstand the workload to win 3-1 against Baldwin-Woodville last Friday.
The Spartans were extremely sluggish for the first 10 minutes of the game, showing the wear that it took to beat Amery 1-0 on Thursday, where the Spartans scored the only goal with three minutes left in the game. Somerset has impressive team speed, but they struggled getting the ball to the forwards. When they did, good things happened. Sophomore Satin Mull scored the first two goals of the game. They both came off long lead passes from Erin Huerta. Mull sprinted down the left side of the field past her outside defender to score both goals, at the 10:11 and 20:49 marks.
Junior outside midfielder Liv Hoff scored the third goal 39 minutes into the game. She had the ball 20 yards out and no defender came out to challenge her. She pounded a shot that carried over the reach of the B-W goalkeeper and into the back corner of the net.
B-W scored the only goal of the second half, with 15 minutes remaining in the game. Freshman goalkeeper Charlotte Eichten made eight saves in goal for Somerset.
Somerset's next game is one of their biggest of the MBC season. They face Hayward, in a game that was shifted to Somerset because Hayward's field is not ready. Roll wants his team to bring a tougher mindset to Monday's game.
"We need to get back to the mentality like every ball is a 50-50 ball," Roll said.
Roll said the one constant in the Spartans' play this season has been defender Kristen Vensland, who is becoming more of a vocal leader in each game.
"She's probably the smartest player I've ever coached and that includes boys," Roll said.
Getting its fifth straight win against Amery is a step in establishing the Somerset girls soccer program as one of the top programs in the Middle Border Conference. The Spartans won their MBC opener on Thursday, with a 1-0 homefield win over the Warriors.
There were only three minutes left in the game when the Spartans scored the only goal of the night. It was a pair of freshmen who combined on the goal. Megan Larse, making her first varsity start, got the goal. Roll said the Spartans have been working on switching the field, noticing that some teams struggled defensively in adjusting to switches. Freshman midfielder Erin Huerta received a pass and she sent the ball deep into the left corner, where Larse was making a run. Larse stopped the ball just before it crossed the end line. She made one touch back into field to put the ball on her kicking foot. She fired a shot that found the far corner of the Amery goal.
It was Larse's first varsity goal.
"She played hard the whole game. She made a good hustle play," said Roll.
Roll said the Spartan defense played an outstanding game, with Eichten making six saves to get the shutout. Roll said the defense was led by Vensland.
"Kristen has taken another step this year, in her play and in her leadership," Roll said.
Roll said facing Amery is important, because they are a team the Spartans measure themselves against, along with Hayward and New Richmond, as top teams in the MBC.
"We want to be one of those teams every year," Roll said.
The Spartans had no trouble against a young Altoona team last Tuesday, rolling past the Rails, 10-0, in a game that was completed in under 50 minutes.
Somerset led 7-0 at halftime and scored the final three goals in less than five minutes to start the second half.
The game was an excellent opportunity for Somerset's young players to establish themselves. Freshman Erin Huerta scored four goals in her first high school game after missing the Spartans' opener due to illness. Madisen Beuthling, Maezee Enger and Rachel Webb also scored their first varsity goals. Mull scored twice and Taylor Paulson scored once to round out the Spartans' scoring. Roll said this showed that the Spartans have numerous girls who can contribute in the scoring column this season. The team's firepower showed late in the first half when the Spartans scored four times in a five-minute span.