RIVER FALLS -- After giving sixth-ranked Eau Claire Memorial all it could handle in a 2-1 Big Rivers Conference loss at home Tuesday, Sept. 10, the Wildcat boys’ soccer team erupted for a total of 16 goals in wins over La Crosse Central and Sparta Saturday, Sept. 14, at its home quad.

Gage Espanet had a pair of hat tricks Saturday as the Cats topped La Crosse Central 8-0 and Sparta 8-2.

“Overall it was a successful weekend,” head coach Marcos Rodriguez said. “We are still learning day by day, but I think we have a lot of potential to go far this year.”

Part of that learning process came earlier in the week against BRC co-leader Eau Claire Memorial. Despite losing seven starters, including their entire defense, from last year, the Cats took the sixth-ranked Old Abes down to the wire in a 2-1 loss.

“We struggled at times in the first half, but came out strong in the second half,” Rodriguez said. “We had plenty of chances to tie it up and maybe even take the lead. I was a little nervous going into the game. We are a fairly new team, so to come out strong in a game like this shows that we are a lot closer than I thought, and we are heading in the right direction.”

Saturday morning against La Crosse Central, Espanet had a hat trick and Elliot Auderieth, Miles Longsdorf, Josh Linton, Dylan Rach and Isaac Carns had a goal apiece while Tobias Snow and Remy Espanet combined for the shutout in an 8-0 victory over the Red Raiders.

“We started a little slow, but once we figured it out we just really opened things up,” Rodriguez said. “We played some good soccer. We move the ball side to side well, we took open space and found our runners.”

The Wildcats picked up right where they left off Saturday afternoon against Sparta with Gage Espanet and Owen Wise each registering hat tricks and Linton and Justin Elsesser scoring a goal each in an 8-2 victory.

“We came out firing right away and running at players and taking players on,” Rodriguez said. “We were looking to play balls into space, find gaps and take advantage of those by playing balls into those gaps.

“Saturday's games were great for us because those are two big section wins that would help us in the section meeting,” he added.

The Wildcats return to BRC action at home against Eau Claire North Thursday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m. before another section game at New Richmond Saturday, Sept. 21.