The Rhinelander High School boys soccer team would come ou flat on Tuesday night in a Great Northern Conference match against Antigo at the RHS soccer fields. But the Hodags would finally hit their stride and would rally for an 11-1 mercy rule victory on senior night.
It was suiting that the seniors played a role in nine of the goals on the night and they were led by Matthew Von Oepen who recorded four goals on the evening.
Senior Josh Randolph, who is Rhinelander's starting goalie was moved to a forward and took advantage and charted two goals including the first of the night. Fellow senior Martin Hoger delivered a ball inside the box and Randolph connected to the top middle in the fifth minute of the match.
But despite several opportunities on goal, the Hodags did not strike again until the 21st minute. Von Oepen scored his first goal of the evening. And senior Hunter Hicks followed and scored on a rebound off Von Oepen’s shot in the 31st minute to put RHS up 3-0.
Von Oepen scored his second goal of the night in the 36th minute when he beat Antigo's defense and connected 10-yards back to the bottom right corner. Just three minutes later Von Oepen completed his hat trick on a shot beyond the penalty area to the bottom left corner to give the Hodags a 5-0 advantage at halftime.
The Robins scored their only goal of the evening in the 49th minute when Jared McFarlane found Garrett Husnick on a run. Husnick put one past freshman keeper Gavin Ostermann. But it was the Hodags the rest of the way, who would scored six straight and end the match early via mercy rule.
In the 52nd minute, Von Oepen scored his fourth and final goal of the night to give Rhinelander a 6-1 advantage. Then in the 56th minute Von Oepen was taken out inside the 18-yard box and senior Freddy Wisner took the PK and connected to the top right corner.
Wisner would strike again this time in the 61st minute. Hicks assisted Wisner on his second goal that he took a few dribbles and connected to the bottom right to put RHS up 8-1.
Sophomore Hugh Wiese scored less than two minutes later to put Rhinelander up by eight goals. Randolph followed with his second goal of the night. And Harrison Shinners scored in the 68th minute to end the match early.
The Hodags outshot Antigo 32-7 overall and held a 23-5 advantage on shots on goal. Ostermann earned the win and recorded four saves.
Rhinelander will conclude their Great Northern Conference regular season tonight when they travel to Medford. RHS is now 6-5-3 overall and 4-3-2 in the conference. The WIAA Division 3 playoffs will then begin next week.