The New Richmond girls soccer team proved to be too taxing for the Somerset girls on Monday.
The Tigers scored four goals in each half while preventing the Spartans from getting near their goal for much of the game in an 8-0 Tiger victory in Middle Border Conference action. This is the only time the Tigers and Spartans will meet this season.
Junior Maya Greenquist was the centerpiece in the Tiger attack on Monday. She was involved in seven of the goals, scoring three and assisting on four.
Tiger coach Tracey Boyle said Greenquist makes things happen when she has the ball at her feet. She was part of a vastly improved passing performance from the Tigers. Boyle said the Tigers spent all of Sunday’s practice working on passing, especially making hard passes on close-range attempts. This quickened the offense and produced a number of open shots.
Amelia Feuerer scored twice for the Tigers, with Shelby Pahnke, Kacie Malone and Lauren Graham also scoring.
Boyle said another factor in the win was the Tigers’ physicality. She said the team, particularly in the defensive zone, used its strength to win the ball in many 50-50 situations.
The Tigers were breaking out a new defensive format in this game. Boyle said the Tigers switched to a flat-back four system instead of the sweeper-stopper system. She said she’s hoping the change will help the Tigers generate more offense from the back line.
Playing in the center of the defense were senior Amanda Johnson and junior Zoe Christensen. For Johnson it’s another position change. She’s played forward and midfield for the Tigers in the past. With two starters injured on defense, it made sense for the coaches to put a seasoned veteran player in to fill the void. Johnson, who is sporting a black eye after getting head butted in a recent game at Onalaska, said she’s doing her best to quickly figure out what’s needed to play defense. She said she sees the whole team performing better after the slow start to the season.
“We’re connecting better as a team. We know how each other plays,” she said.
Another reason the coaches picked Johnson is she’s a quick study. She was New Richmond’s female honoree at the recent Middle Border Conference Scholar-Athlete Banquet. She’s planning on studying aviation at the University of North Dakota.
Johnson said she believes the Tigers’ goals for the season remain intact.
“I think we can definitely win a couple rounds of the playoffs and make it to state,” she said.
For Somerset, this was not the performance they’d hoped for, after usually giving a strong showing against New Richmond. Somerset coach Bill Roll said the team had very few offensive chances after the opening 10 minutes of the game because they couldn’t get the ball from the defensive zone to the forwards. He said the Spartans struggled to mark up Tigers while on defense, leaving New Richmond girls the chance to make clean runs toward the net. Roll said the game showed the Spartans still are a young team.
“At times we had five freshmen on the field. New Richmond lost one senior and we lost 10. Next year we’ll be the team that loses nobody,” Roll said.
Both teams return to action on Thursday. New Richmond will host Amery and Somerset will play at Osceola.
Some of the top Middle Border Conference softball teams are edging past the Somerset girls early this season, but the Spartans are hoping that changes in the second round of MBC games.
The Spartans lost at Baldwin-Woodville 3-2 on Monday. The Spartans didn’t score until the seventh inning when Roxanne Ring ripped a two-run triple. The Spartans weren’t able to bring Ring home with the tying run.
Baldwin-Woodville can be a challenging place to play and when the Blackhawks scored on a solo homer in the first inning and added two runs in the second, things could have gone badly for the Spartans. Instead, they shut down the Blackhawk attack the rest of the game.
“I felt we were a little intimidated,” Somerset coach Paige Johnson said of the start to the game. She said holding the Hawks without a run the rest of the game “was a positive. We know we can play with them.”
While the Spartans have one of the youngest lineups in the MBC, Johnson said this game and last week’s 5-4 loss against Amery showed the Spartans are already at a competitive level in the conference.
“I feel that’s a huge statement,” she said. Johnson said she saw the team up its effort level in the seventh inning to try to overtake B-W.
“That’s the team I need to show up every game,” she said.
The Blackhawks got even younger on Monday, with Johnson inserting freshman Taryn Dornseif in rightfield. Johnson said Dornseif made a couple nice defensive plays and had one of the team’s hits.
The Spartans will return to action on Tuesday with a game at St. Croix Central.