The Rhinelander High School girls' soccer team was only one goal shy of upsetting No. 2 seed Pulaski on the road in the WIAA Division 1 regional final match on Saturday at Pulaski Middle School. But unfortunately the Hodags would give up a last-minute goal to Brooke Schauer and would end their 2017 season with a 3-2 loss.
It was a tough loss for RHS, who would snap their regional title streak after earning the previous four and was also the second consecutive year the Red Raiders would end the Hodags’ season.
Pulaski would hold possession a majority of the game, but Rhinelander still managed to capitalize on opportunities to stay close. It also showed a much improved Hodag team from the first time RHS faced the Raiders and fell 5-1 in the beginning of April.
RHS would strike first in the 11th minute of action when Lauren Fabich found Alayna Franson. Beating Pulaski's defense, Franson fired from the 18-yard box and connected to give the Hodags' an early one goal advantage.
Rhinelander would hold the lead for over 15 minutes, before Maggie Hernandez of Pulaski connected on her first goal of the night in the 26th minute of action. The Hodags and Red Raiders would go into halftime tied 1-1.
But the Hodag's were unable to hold Hernandez off the board in the second half. In the 54th minute, Hernandez would have the go-ahead goal to give Pulaski a 2-1 lead.
Neither offense would score again for another 25 minutes, when RHS found the back of the net on their second of goal of the night in the 81st minute. Senior Sydney Zettler fired the initial shot that deflected off a Raider defender. And Brooke Mork was there for the rebound and put a shot passed keeper Malorie Schultz to tie the game up 2-2.
It appeared as if the game was going to go into overtime as the minutes dwindled down, but a lapse in Rhinelander's defense would allow the winning goal with 42 seconds left in regulation. Hernandez set up the play in the 90th minute as the Hodags' defense collapsed on her just outside the 18. Hernandez found Brooke Schauer open, who dribbled a few times and had a hard shot that goalie Abby Oettinger got a hand on, but still trickled into the goal.
The Hodags had a few opportunities on the net that they were unable to capitalize despite the Red Raiders controlling tempo on the night. Pulaski outshot RHS 26-11 in the match and Oettinger recorded seven saves and took the loss.
The Hodags' finished their 2017 season 20-4 overall despite finishing their season earlier then they wanted. The Hodag had a successful season and charted another Great Northern Conference title. Rhinelander had 10 seniors that concluded their high school soccer careers which included Zettler, Oettinger, Fabich, Albiona Sabani, Shelby Kuehn, Lauryn Cook, Sydney Zastrow, Haley Sisel, Lauryn Roberts, and Shea Petersen. Although RHS will lose several starting seniors and will have to fill the voids for 2018, they have plenty of experience and talent coming back.
The Rhinelander High School girls' soccer team started their playoff season with a 3-2 WIAA Regional semifinal victory over Marshfield at Mike Webster Stadium. The Hodags took a 2-0 lead at half, but the Tigers rallied back for two unanswered goals to force two-10 minute overtimes. Anna Sturzl was able to score three minutes into OT, to push RHS passed Marshfield and advance to the regional finals.
Rhinelander put the pressure on the Tiger's defense early on, and would strike their first goal of the night in the sixth minute when senior Sydney Zettler sent Franson up the left touchline. Franson had a well-sent cross from the left touchline. Sturzl was at the back post and finished to the top left corner to put RHS on the board.
The Hodags would control the tempo as the first half continued and had several chance to tack on extra goals. In the 16th minute freshman Izzy Haverkampf had a shot 20 yard back that sailed up over the cross bar. And senior Shelby Kuehn had a shot 25 yards back, right at keeper Nina Hashimoto a few minutes later.
Finally, Rhinelander was able to capitalize on another shot on goal in the 24th minute of action. Franson took one of RHS's six-first half corner kicks and Haverkampf was there to finish to the bottom left corner and give the Hodag's a 2-0 lead that they would maintain until halftime.
But with the loser ending their season, Marshfield turn up the heat in the second half and would push right back for two unanswered goals. The Tigers pulled keeper Hashimoto to a forward position, with Andrea Carolfi replacing her in goal as well.
Marshfield would pull with one goal in the 64th minute after keeper Abby Oettinger went to clear a ball, but bounced right to Kendra Tremelling of the Tigers, who quickly chipped the ball with Oettinger out of position and scored before she could recover back to the net. Minus the misplay, Oettinger had several quality saves throughout the night.
But the one goal, gave Marshfield momentum in the final 18 minutes of regulation. The Tigers continued to test the Hodag's defense and kept the pressure on. Marshfield would put in the tying goal in the 75th minute. Hashimoto split Rhinelander's defense and finished passed Oettinger to the to bottom left corner.
Despite a late Tiger rally, Rhinelander did not give up and would close regulation on a mission, but had no answer for Marshfield. Haverkampf had a shot that missed right with 10 minutes remaining. And Franson had an open shot on a break near the penalty mark that missed up over the crossbar. And with under three minutes left, off a corner, Haverkampf also sailed one over the goal.
RHS would then go into overtime, where they would play two-10 minute sessions, but would not take the Hodags long to strike. In the 93rd minute of the match and less than three minutes into OT, Zettler found Sturzl that broke passed the Tiger's defense and scored to the bottom left corner for what proved to be the winning goal.
One of Marshfield's best looks at the goal in the overtime came with five minutes left when senior Albiona Sabani receive a yellow card just outside the 18-yard box. The Tigers direct kick, cruised up over goal. Rhinelander was able to keep Marshfield off the board the rest of the way, and would earn the one-goal victory after 110 minutes of work.
The Hodags outshot the Tigers 16-8 on total shots, and held an 9-7 edge on shots on goal. Oettinger would earn the win with five saves.
Rhinelander, a third-seed in the WIAA tournament advanced to the Division 2 regional final that will be held on Saturday where they will face second-seeded Pulaski. RHS fell 5-1 to the Red Raiders in the beginning of April when the Hodgas were without Sturzl and defender Lauren Fabich had limited minutes coming back from a knee injury. Kickoff is scheduled for 4:30PM at Pulaski Middle School.
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