The Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team would record yet another winning season in 2016 marked by their third consecutive Great Northern Conference title under head Coach Dan Millot.
The Hodags would finish their fall season with an 8-0-2 record in the GNC and went 11-7-2 overall. Rhinelander would easily score the most in the conference and averaged 4.3/goals per match. And on the defensive end the Hodags' also at least goals scored against them in the GNC with allowing 10 goals, averaging to only one a game.
Leading the way was no other than senior GNC offensive player of the year Gunnar Millot, who also earned first team all-conference. Osy Ekwueme of Medord was also co-offensive GNC player of the year and led with 19 conference goals and 45 total points.
Millot finished the conference with 11 goals, but really showed his offensive abilities was his 17 assists he charted. His assists by far led the conference, with the next best finishing with 7 assists. Millot would finish his high school career with 39 total conference points.
Along with Millot, sophomore Jonus Sabani also had an impact for the Hodags' and earned first team all-conference unanimous selection. Sabani finished with 14 goals which was second highest in the GNC and 31 total points.
Senior Reeve Craig would finish 2016 with nine conference goals and four assists and would make the GNC charts with 22 total points. Sophomore Von Oepen wouldn't be far behind Craig and finish with 15 points including six goals and three assists. Both Craig and Von Oepen earned second team all-conference as well.
Sophomore keeper Josh Randolph and junior Joseph Schmitz would each earned honorable mention in the GNC. Randolph would finish with the third best conference save percentage at 80.8%, only allowing an average of one goal per match. Schmitz would finish with three points in the conference including one goal and one assist.
Rhinelander would start their season at the end of August with the Hodag Invite held at the Hanson Lake Soccer Complex. In the two-day tournament, RHS would go 1-2 against non-conference opponents. The Hodags fell to Kingsford and Iron Mountain and their lone win was against Tomah.
Rhinelander would kick off the conference on the road against Lakeland, where the Thunderbirds on got on board first. But the Hodags' got back-to-back goals from senior Craig to pull ahead in the first half. Millot would add a second half insurance goal to give RHS a 3-1 win.
The only bump in their GNC schedule would come against Mosinee, where each conference match the Hodags' would come out with 1-1 draws. In each match Rhinelander would have quality looks at the net, but would only connect on one each game, which provided to not be enough for the victory but only the tie. The Indians would finish third in the GNC with a 4-2-4 record, and would hold the most draws in conference action.
From that point, the Hodag's most difficult opponents proved to be non-conference teams. In early September, RHS battled in the Delavan-Darien Quad and went 1-1. The Hodags fell 2-1 to Racine Case and defeated Milwaukee Lutheran 5-2.
Just two weeks later, Rhinelander would battle in another non-conference invite, this time a little closer to home at D.C. Everest. Yet again the Hodags would come out 1-1. RHS would fall to Wausau West 4-1 before defeating Fond du Lac 4-0.
Rhinelander would face Marshfield in a non-conference match at the end of September and would fall 5-1. And not even a month later, the Hodags were faced with facing the Tigers in the WIAA Division 2 Regional Semifinals. In a similar story, Rhinelander fell, this time 7-1 at Griese Park.
Despite their playoff run coming to an end earlier than in the previous years, the Hodags still have plenty to hold their heads high about. RHS finished 11-7-2 overall and nearly perfect at 8-0-2 in the GNC and secured their third straight title under Coach Millot. The Hodags will lose seven seniors to graduation, but their hard work and dedication will be remembered.
The Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team knew they would have to make adjustments going into Thursday's regional semifinals against Marshfield, who they faced early in the year. But the Tigers proved to be the better team and earned a 7-1 victory at Griese Park on Thursday.
It was a very similar match to when Rhinelander played Marshfield in a non-conference match at the end of September and fell 5-1. The Tigers rallied in the final 13 minutes of action and capitalized on four goals to secure a 7-1 victory and advance to the regional finals.
Senior Hunter McManus would lead Marshfield and charted a hat-trick in their win and also got the Tigers scoring started early in the match. In the eighth minute of action, Connor Nikolai took a corner kick for Marshfield. McManus jumped up in a near header, but the ball deflected off his shoulder, getting by keeper Josh Randolph.
Grant Urban would add to the Tigers' lead in the 32nd minute and connected on a shot 20 yards back to the top right corner. It also started Marshfield's rally to scoring four goals in the final 13 minutes of the first half.
And less than two minutes later, Kade McManus would put the Tigers' up 3-0 on a rocket of a shot that was sent just beyond the 18-yard box. The shot ricocheted off defender Alec Lowery's leg and would roll in to the bottom right corner.
In the 38th minute, Ethan Leischow would score on a rebound. And in Marshfield's final goal of the first half, Hunter McManus would dribble through the Hodag's defense and connect from six yards back to the bottom right corner with two minutes left in the first. The Tigers would take a 5-0 lead at halftime.
Rhinelander's lone goal of the evening came from senior captain Gunnar Millot. Marshfield was called for a foul 30 yards back, resulting in a direct free kick for the Hodags. Millot scored to the bottom left corner in the 57th minute.
There were limited opportunities that Rhinelander had on the offensive end of the field. One of the best looks besides Millot's score was in the 11th minute of action. Millot yet again took a free kick and had a well placed ball over the Tiger's wall. Fellow senior Reeve Craig just missed the header.
Hunter McManus would complete his hat trick in the 75th minute. Just beyond the 18, McManus would drill a shot just under the cross bar. And in Marshfield's final goal of the night, Kevin Cassidy connected on a rebound in the 78th minute. The Tigers' would go on to earn the 7-1 win, and knocking Rhinelander out of the playoffs.
Overall Marshfield held a 30-8 advantage on total shots and controlled a majority of the match. The Tigers also put 70% of their shots on frame with a 21-4 shot on goal advantage. Randolph finished with 14 saves.
Rhinelander would close their year under Coach Dan Millot with an 11-7-2 record and finished the Great Northern Conference 8-0-2 and secured their third consecutive conference title. The Hodags also had seven seniors who would see their high school soccer careers come to an end, but their hard work and dedication would not be forgotten.
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