Fast starts in each half carried the New Richmond girls soccer team to an impressive 5-1 victory over Eau Claire North at the NRHS soccer field on Saturday.
The Tigers were especially sharp in the opening minutes of both halves. The Tigers scored 71 seconds into the game on an impressive piece of teamwork. Amelia Feuerer centered a pass to Maya Greenquist. Greenquist immediately moved the ball to her right, where Kacie Malone was unmarked and had a clear shot at the net.
The momentum was clearly in the Tigers’ favor through the first 25 minutes of the game. There was then a long delay as an injured Eau Claire North player was treated. After that break, North got its only goal as the Tigers couldn’t regain that spark.
The second half started with the Tigers playing their best ball of the day, scoring three goals in the first 9:20 of the half. The first of those goals came a minute into the half when Greenquist scored from a scrum in front of the net.
Six minutes later, Shelby Pahnke scored off an assist from Greenquist. Greenquist extended the lead to 4-1 two minutes later by blasting a shot from 20 yards out past the North keeper.
One area where the Tigers shined Saturday was controlling the action in the center of the field. Tiger coach Tracey Boyle said midfielder Teresa Tenner was the leader of that success.
“She controlled the whole middle of the field. Everything went through her,” Boyle said.
Tenner’s play had dual importance. She cut off numerous North attempts to transition from defense to offense. She also funneled the ball to the forwards. Greenquist, Feuerer and Malone in particular were playing well together in the offensive zone.
Tenner said she’s working to help the forwards create their passing shapes so offense can function at full capacity. She said the coaches’ switch to more of a passing approach this season, away from a punt and run style, has made it important for the forwards to concentrate on moving together.
Tenner said the strong starts in each half are a good sign, but the Tigers now need to carry that intensity level through each half.
Tenner closed the game with one of the prettiest plays for the Tigers this season. Boyle said the Tigers have been working extensively on crosses and corner kicks in practice. With five minutes left in the game, Jhette Gabriel launched a corner kick toward the front of the net. Tenner timed her run perfectly, adjusting as the ball curved in the wind, to use a header to drive the ball past the North keeper for the final goal of the game.
Another good sign for the Tigers was the return of junior Audrey Feuerer. She was one of the team’s leading defensive players last season, but she’s been sidelined since suffering a knee injury in the season opener at Hudson. Feuerer played in two five-minute increments in the second half as the coaches are easing her back into the lineup.
Saturday’s game had special meaning for Boyle. She is an Eau Claire North graduate and she was excited for her team to show well. Boyle said if there’s anyone who can truly say how competitive she is, it’s North coach Terry Albrecht, who was the Huskies’ coach when Boyle played at North.
The schedule is busy for the Tigers. They play at Baldwin-Woodville on Monday before hosting Barron on Tuesday.
New Richmond baseball
The home doubleheader on Friday against Chippewa Falls did not turn out the way the Tigers had hoped. One bad inning in each game developed into 10-0 and 9-3 losses for the Tigers.
The Tigers have played exceptionally well when they’ve played at Citizens Field in recent years. That’s part of the reason the coaches were mystified by the sluggish performance by the Tigers all through Friday’s action.
The opening game was close until the sixth inning. Chippewa Falls held a 1-0 lead until striking for nine runs in the sixth inning. New Richmond led 2-1 after three innings in the second game. That’s when Chippewa Falls took charge by scoring eight runs in the fourth inning.
“We talked quite a bit about trying to eliminate the big inning,” New Richmond coach Travis Helland said. ���We you give any time five or six outs in an inning, it isn’t going to go well.”
The Tigers started poorly on defense in both games, with two errors in the first inning of each game.
If there was a bright spot for the Tigers Friday, it was the pitching of Charlie Thibodeau in the opener. He pitched 4.1 innings allowing one unearned run. Thibodeau was the only Tiger with more than one hit in the opener, as they were shut out on seven hits.
“We just weren’t very good all-around,” Helland said. “I’m still confident, still optimistic, but we’ve got a lot to work on.”
In the second game, the Tigers committed six errors. Reece Lucas started on the mound with James Schutte pitching well in relief. The Tigers were limited to five hits in the second game. Lucas, Fred Riba and Brandon Gaspord drove home the runs.
The Tigers will be back at Citizens Field on Tuesday, hosting Somerset. The Tigers will play at Osceola on Thursday, first completing the early-season game that was called due to darkness, and then playing their regularly scheduled game.
New Richmond softball
The Tigers and Amery waged an all-out slugfest on Friday. The lead changed hands several times before Amery finished with a 14-10 win at the NRHS softball field.
Amery is one of the leaders in the Middle Border Conference, having beaten Prescott 3-1 the night before.
It seems that in every game, the Tigers are showing they are on the right track to a bright future. That showed mostly at the plate on Friday as the Tigers posted 10 runs and 11 hits against one of the most experienced pitching staffs in the conference.
The hitting was well balanced, with Lexy Kupczak, Emma Tappe, Lanie Veenendall and Ali VonWald all finishing with two hits. Kupczak and Tappe both drove home two runs.
New Richmond coach Lynzi Pechacek was pleased with the discipline at the plate shown by the Tigers.
“They had really good at-bats. They were picking good pitches to hit,” she said. Pechacek said the Tigers took a step forward on defense too, after having problems against Baldwin-Woodville the previous night in that area.
Both teams had played on Tuesday and Thursday and Pechacek said the pitchers on both teams may have been a bit weary. The Tigers rotated starter Leah DeYoung and Veenendall several times between pitcher and shortstop in an effort to get through the game. Pechacek said that both girls can handle those two positions gives the coaches many more options in games.
The Tigers will be back in action on Tuesday when they host St. Croix Central.