The Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team rallied back late against Medford on Thursday night to earn the win and finish with a perfect 10-0 record in the Great Northern Conference. The Hodags scored back-to-back goals in the final 18 minutes of the match to make their way back and earn the 2-1 win at Mike Webster Stadium on senior night.
Despite Rhinelander controlling possession for a majority of the match and having several quality looks on frame, the Raiders got on board first. It was not until the 58th minute that Medford would score on a free kick.
After a Hodag foul just outside the 18-yard box, the Raiders' Sam Hallgren lined up as if he were taking the kick, but purposely missed with teammate Armin Kliewe behind him who took the shot. The play worked, as the ball stayed low and went passed Rhinelander's wall and just passed keeper Josh Randolph inside the right post and Medford would take a 1-0 lead.
As clock continued to dwindle down, the Hodags turned up the offensive pressure and had several more looks on goal. It wasn't until the 72nd when Freddy Wisner took a corner kick for RHS. The well-placed ball went just outside the goal area. Richie Triplett finished the play to even the score out 1-1 and gave the Hodags the spark they needed to finish the contest.
Rhinelander continued the offensive pressure, but after missing a few shots that sailed over the cross bar and wide, the Hodags capitalized on the game-winning goal in the 88th minute. Wisner drilled a shot approximately 45-yard back with just over two minutes in the match. The shot went over keeper Brady Hupf's hands and snuck under the crossbar to give RHS the win and they were able to finish the GNC undefeated at 10-0.
The very physical match resulted in a total of 30 fouls called and three yellow cards were also issued on the night. The Raiders used a compact defense throughout the night and doubled or tripled teamed the Hodags' top scoring threat Jonus Sabani. But the Hodags were up for the challenge and Wisner and Ritchie recorded vital goals to relief that pressure.
Overall Rhinelander outshot Medford 26-9 and held a 12-3 advantage on shots on goal. Randolph earned the win and added two saves. RHS advanced to 14-3-2 overall.
Looking at the WIAA Division 3 Regionals, the Hodags earned the No. 1 seed and received a first round bye in the tournament. Rhinelander will face the winner of the Medford (No. 8 seed) and Shawano (No. 9 seed) on Thursday at the RHS soccer fields at 4:00PM.
The Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team earned their fourth straight Great Northern Conference title after defeating Northland Pines on the road on Thursday evening. Both Freddy Wisner and Jonus Sabani scored for the Hodags in the 2-1 victory in Eagle River.
RHS was also without head Coach Dan Millot, who was out of town for the match, leaving the head coaching responsibilities to Richard Kotula and Sarah Lentini.
Although Rhinelander controlled the tempo most of the first half, they only were able to find the back of the net on one of their 15 first half shots. Wisner scored in the seventh minute of action to put the Hodags on the board early. Sabani assisted the first goal that was well-placed shot 30 yards back that went up over freshman keeper Colby Kruse's hands and sailed just underneath the crossbar.
But the Eagles would respond just over three minutes later and would tie the game up 1-1. In transition Lochlan Siegmeier fired a shot to the bottom right corner past keeper Josh Randolph for Pines only goal of the match.
Although the Hodags had several quality looks on goal, they would not score their second goal until under two minutes left in the contest.
Just momentums before Northland Pines score, Matthew Von Oepen fired a shot 20-yards back but was denied on one of several quality diving saves from Kruse on the night. Sabani in the 25th minute also had a shot just inside the 18 that deflected off the left post.
And a few minutes later Sabani set up Daren Bloomquist on a run. Bloomquist blasted a shot to the top left corner of the goal, but was tipped up and out by Kruse. And in the final few minutes of the first half, Wisner nearly added a second goal on another deep shot 25 yards back, but right at Kruse.
The winning goal was set up by junior Anthony Kowalski, who was tripped inside the Eagles 18 in the 88th minute of action. Kowalski also has only joined the team in the past few weeks after switching from playing football. After the foul, Sabani took the penalty kick and scored the game-winner past Kruse.
Rhinelander held 26-10 advantage on total shots and 16-4 on shots on frame. Randolph earned the victory and recorded three saves. The Hodags advanced to 9-0 in the conference to claim the GNC title and are 14-3-2 overall.
RHS will be back in action on Thursday when they host Medford for senior night and close out their regular season at Mike Webster Stadium. Kick-off is set for 7:00PM. The WIAA sectional seeding meeting will also be held on Wednesday, as Rhinelander drops to Division for the 2017 season.
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