Despite the Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team controlling the Great Northern Conference match on the road Thursday night, they were unable to find the back of the net. The Hodags and Thunderbirds would finish in a 0-0 draw in their opening conference match at the River Valley Bank Field at Lakeland Union High School.
Rhinelander controlled tempo and possession for most of the match and would outshoot Lakeland 26-2 overall but couldn't get one by keeper Mason Holmquist. Not only did RHS produce several quality looks on goal, they also won most of the 50-50 balls and their defense was able to limit the Thunderbirds to only two shots on the night.
In the 12th minute of the match sophomore Joseph Heck delivered a nice cross from the right flank inside the 18-yard box. Senior teammate Hunter Hicks was there and fired a shot to the bottom left corner but Holmquist had a diving save to force a Hodag corner kick and prevent the goal.
The opportunities continued with several shots starting in the 22nd minute that sailed either up and over the cross bar or off the top. Junior Daniel Ritchie and senior Martin Hoger had a short-set piece off a corner and sent a cross just outside the penalty area in the 39th minute. Heck was there to get a head on the ball, but his placement was right at Holmquist.
Again, in the final 45 minutes of the contest, Rhinelander continued to find open looks but could not convert. Some of their top looks in the second half came in the final 10 minutes of the match but would once again come up empty handed. In the 84th minute Hicks drilled a shot that hit off the left post and fellow senior Russel Benoy had shot around the 18-yard box that was tipped out of bounds shortly after.
Lakeland's top scoring threat of the night came in the 68th minute when Brandon Boh was on a breakaway passed Rhinelander's defense and riffled a shot that deflected off the left goal post. Senior keeper Josh Randolph only saw two shots on the night and recorded one save in the tie. The Hodags put 13 shots on frame but were unable to score.
Rhinelander is now 1-1-1 this season and 0-0-1 in the Great Northern Conference. The Hodags will compete in a triangular this weekend at Delavan-Darien and will return to their conference schedule on Thursday when they host Antigo at Mike Webster Stadium.