NEW RICHMOND, Wis. -- New Richmond boys’ soccer coach Darian Blattner said the third-seeded Tigers knew they’d have their work cut out for them against top-seeded Hudson in their Division 1 sectional semifinal Thursday night, Oct. 29, in Hudson. The Tigers gave it their best shot in a 1-0 loss.
“It was a fun match to be part of last night and I am very proud of our players and our program,” Blattner said Friday morning. “It was a unique season, and moving up to Division 1 was a great challenge for our program, but I think we showed we can compete with Hudson. I suspect they didn't think we could give them a game after what happened in our first meeting.”
The Raiders defeated the Tigers 5-0 back on Oct. 2, one of just two blemishes on New Richmond’s 14-2 regular season record. But the Tigers played a much physical game this time around and limited Hudson to just a single goal off a rebound following a corner kick in the first half.
“We were prepared for their brand of soccer and our kids didn't back down,” Blattner said. “We struggled to maintain an attack but believed if we kept the game close we would have an opportunity or two by the end, but things just didn't materialize for us.”
Blattner said the Tigers were forced to move senior Joe Casey from an attacking role to the defending midfield position for the playoffs and he responded by playing two of the best games of his career.
“Having to move kids into positions they hadn't played much, or at all, at playoff time isn't ideal but everyone did what they could to help the team,” he said.
After reaching the WIAA Division2 State Tournament a year ago, the Tigers reached the Division 1 sectional semifinal game and finished 14-3-1 overall in the COVID-altered 2020 season. He said the new coronavirus certainly caused some issues for the Tigers this year, and he felt bad for the players who were affected.
“It's hard to see your season end when you have to watch from home,” he said. “Especially tough if you are a senior. It's always disappointing to have the season end, but it is a season to remember with the way our players battled all the way to the very end.”