The 2019 Rhinelander High School boys' team under the direction of new head Coach Nathan Bates are looking to turn the tables this season and striving to get back on top in the Great Northern Conference.
The Hodags have won four of the last five GNC titles despite finishing third in the standings at 5-3-2 (and 8-6-2 overall). Northland Pines swept the conference title with a perfect 10-0 GNC record and are a likely favorite again this season as they return six all-conference players including offensive player of the year Liam Oas.
RHS lost six of their eight players who earned all-conference honors last season including their top scoring threat Matthew Von Oepen and keeper Josh Randolph. Along with several voids on the field, Nicholas St. Pierre who also earned all-GNC last season switched to running cross country his senior year.
Even with losing a number of players, Rhinelander's young squad has plenty of returning of talent along with a number of incoming freshmen. The team only has six seniors and five juniors charted on their roster and will need to get the help of several underclassman to grow and improve this season.
Rhinelander's top returning scorer for 2019 will be junior Hugh Wiese who charted two goals and two assists in conference action. The Hodags will also have a number of other players with speed like Wiese that can fill in at attacking-mid such as Daniel Ritchie, juniors Joseph Heck and Jacob Ostrander and sophomores Tucker Frederickson and Wyatt Haverkampf.
In goal, sophomore Gavin Ostermann will replace Randolph who went 3-3-2 last season. Ostermann started and recorded a pair of wins as keeper in the matches against Antigo where he recorded seven saves. Protecting Ostermann and playing center defenders are seniors Breckin Younker and Harrison Shinners. While at defensive-mid RHS will look for a core group of freshmen; Braden Mork, Charlie Heck, and Shane Petrick.
The Hodags will open their season tomorrow when they host Hayward in a non-conference match at the RHS Soccer Field at 5:00PM. RHS will then host the Hodag Invite at Hansen Lake where they will face Lakeland, Waupaca, and Wausau East. Rhinelander will be put to the test early as they open their GNC schedule at Eagle River on Tuesday September, 3rd. The rest of the Hodags' home game will be moved back to Mike Webster Stadium once the artificial turf is installed.