In a game of swinging momentum, the Hayward varsity soccer team defeated Rhinelander in a weather delayed soccer match at Rhinelander high school Tuesday.
The only goal of the game came at the 25 minute mark of the first half off the right foot of Hayward forward Elijah Heyworth. The Hurricanes set up a strong defense in the middle of the field that constantly frustrated the Hodag's attack. Rhinelander continually probed that defense with a series of long balls that they were unable to finish in front of the net. Shortly after the Hayward goal, the game was suspended for over 40 minutes due to thunderstorms that passed just north of the playing field.
When the game resumed Rhinelander regained the momentum with a number of scoring opportunities off of short combination passes. At the end of the first half the score remained 1-0 in favor of Hayward. Both teams had a quick 5 min. halftime to plan and regroup. Once the second half started, the momentum swung back in Hayward's favor. Goalkeeper Gavin Ostermann shut the door on numerous opportunities by Hayward. The Hurricanes threatened on a number of chances by hitting the crossbar on a direct kick, and two more penalty kicks that sailed high and wide. In the last 10 minutes of the second half Rhinelander took the momentum back by committing the defense to pushing the ball up field. Rhinelander coach Nathan Bates switched up attacker Tucker Fredrickson to defense looking for opportunities for Tucker to carry the ball to the attackers. Hayward recognized that Fredrickson has some great ball skills and double and triple teamed him most of the match. Time ran out on the Hodag's who begin the season 0-1.
Although disappointed in the outcome Rhinelander coach Nathan Bates was pleased with his team's performance. "We're young and learning as we go, I told the guys I'm proud of them and happy with their effort. In the first half I felt our kids might've been sleeping a little bit, but in the second half came out with a vengeance". Gavin Ostermann finished the game with over 14 saves. "Gavin will be doing that for us all season. Our defense is young but I have worked with Gavin for a few years now and he's a talented keeper" said coach Bates.
Rhinelander will be hosting a four team tournament with Wausau East, Lakeland and Waupaca on Saturday at the Rhinelander soccer fields and Mike Webster Stadium. The first match begins at 9 AM versus Wausau East.