The Somerset soccer team fell behind early and could never recover in the Division 4 regional championship game played at Northland Pines on Saturday afternoon. The Spartans lost to Northland Pines, 3-1.
Somerset finished the season with a 12-6-3 record, the most successful season for the program since 2013.
Somerset was the third seed in the regional bracket and Northland Pines the second seed. Northland Pines will host the sectional semifinal game next Thursday. That’s because fourth-seed Washburn upset top-seeded Barron 2-0 on Saturday.
Northland Pines got the early jump on the Spartans, scoring off a header in the game’s fourth minute. Roll said the Spartans left early in the day to make sure they’d arrive early enough from the four-hour bus journey to shake off the bus legs.
“That goal put us on our heels a little bit,” Roll said. “They’re a good team. They had really good passing and they were in your face defensively.”
Northland Pines took charge by scoring two goals in a four-minute stretch, extending the lead to 3-0 in the 32nd minute. Somerset kept the pressure on, scoring two minutes later. Off a set play from a free kick, Parker Gebheim got the ball to Aaron Shartin-Folkert, who snapped a shot past the Northland Pines keeper.
In the second half the Spartans moved a defender upfield as an extra attacker, but they still weren’t able to cut into the lead at all.
The Spartans graduate seven players from their lineup. Roll said the seniors have done an excellent job of building the program to where it finished third in the Middle Border Conference standings this season.
Somerset’s playoffs successfully Thursday, with the Spartans scoring a 2-0 win over Cumberland in the opening round of the playoffs.
While the Spartans’ win against Cumberland was only 2-0, it doesn’t reflect who much Somerset controlled the ball in this game. Cumberland played eight players in the defensive zone and severely clogged the center of the field. It wasn’t until the 27th minute that the Spartans were able to get on the scoreboard.
The goal came when Shartin-Folkert sent a lead pass deep into the offensive zone that sophomore Torsten Strom was able to run onto in stride. Strom froze the Cumberland keeper, then put his shot in the corner of the net.
The lead was expanded to 2-0 at the 39:40 mark. Seeing that Cumberland was clogging the middle, the Somerset coaches responded by moving senior Logan Giossi to the right outside midfielder. That move resulted in this goal. Giossi carried the ball to the right baseline, then sent a pass across the crease. Junior Alex De La O was crashing the net and he quickly turned the pass into a goal.
Roll said that type of pass and ball control was exactly what he was looking for when Giossi was moved to the outside, saying Giossi roamed free through the Cumberland defense, creating a number of good scoring chances for his teammates.
“That was his best game this season,” Roll said. “He knows that smart soccer.”
Roll said Giossi was one of several Spartans who stood out, including Shawn Vensland, Brandon Wright and Ben Rybacki in that group. Rybacki was playing for the first time since missing three games with a sprained ankle. Roll said he was pleased that the team started the game with good energy. He said that will be important on Saturday, saying the Spartans will need to get up to speed quickly after the long bus ride.