The Rhinelander High School girls' soccer team has done it again and earned their sixth consecutive Great Northern Conference title. The Hodags defeated Ashland 4-1 on Tuesday at Ponzio Stadium (Northland College) in Ashland to clench the GNC crown.
Rhinelander's biggest offensive spark came in a six-minute span in the match starting in the 20th minute. RHS would rally for three goals in the contest that was delayed several times throughout the night due to thunderstorms and was finally called in the 83rd minute, seven minutes shy of regulation.
Anna Sturzl started the scoring for the Hodags, and was assisted by Sydney Zettler to put the RHS in the lead that they would maintain until the end. Alayna Franson used her speed to get past the Oredocker's defense for another goal in the 23rd minute. And Franson would strike again in the 25th minute in the same fashion to give the Hodags' a 3-0 advantage.
Ashland would break up Rhinelander's scoring in the 58th minute that was charted as an own goal that deflected off a Hodag defender, giving the Oredockers their lone goal.
Sturzl would tack on her second goal of the night in the 79th minute, just minutes before the game was called. Zettler would also tally two assists in the win.
One of the Hodags' most difficult challenge of the night came on the defensive end of the field and containing the speed of Kaylee McPeak. Rhinelander used a combination of Lauren Fabich and Albiona Sabani in the defensive mid and midfield positions to keep her off the board. McPeak is currently third in the GNC standings in individual goals with 14, behind Franson (23), and Zettler (15).
The Hodags' controlled a majority of the match and would hold a 26-5 advantage on total shots and an 11-4 edge on shots on frame. Abby Oettinger earned the win for RHS and recorded three saves in her efforts.
Rhinelander will host Wausau West on Saturday at 10:00AM at the Hanson Lake Soccer Complex in the Hodag Invite. Two teams dropped out of the invitational, therefore Saturday will be the lone match.
The Hodags will look to maintain a perfect GNC record as they host three conference matches against Medford, Newman Catholic, and Antigo this coming week at Mike Webster Stadium. Although Rhinelander has already secured the GNC title for 2017, they are looking to keep their full team healthy and prepare as the playoffs quickly approach.
The Rhinelander High School girls' soccer team advanced to 11-0 in the Great Northern Conference standings after two conference road games. The Hodags defeated Mosinee 7-1 on Thursday night and would follow that up on Friday with a 10-0 mercy rule win at Antigo.
There was no surprise Rhinelander was led by Alayna Franson, Anna Sturzl, and Sydney Zettler. The trio combined for all the Hodags' offense with Franson leading the way with a hat trick. Both Zettler and Sturzl finished with two goals apiece in the win at Edgewood Park.
The Hodags would rally in a 20-minute span starting at the end of the first half and the first 10 minutes of the second half and put up five of their seven goals. RHS also now has a seven-point cushion in the GNC, with Ashland in second with 13 points and Northland Pines not far behind in third with 12 points.
On Thursday, the Hodags had several early opportunities of the match, but were unable to capitalize until the 22nd minute. Zettler found Franson up the field, and Franson was able to make her way around keeper Madison Barber. With the goal empty, Franson tapped a shot in from the 18-yard box to give RHS a 1-0 lead.
Franson would strike again, this time in the 36th minute when she connected on a shot that trickled through Barber’s hands. Zettler would add to the lead in the 42nd minute and connected on a shot just inside the 18 on a pass from Shelby Kuehn.
Rounding out the first half scoring was Sturzl who found the back of the net in the 44th minute of action off a free kick from Franson. The Hodags would take a 4-0 lead at the break.
Rhinelander didn't slow down their offensive attack when they entered the second half. The Hodags again had several quality looks early on, and Sturzl would connect on her second goal of the night in the 54th minute. And less than a minute later Franson would record her hat trick in the 55th minute.
Despite the lopsided outcome, Mosinee did have their chances on goal, and would score their lone goal of the match in the 71st minute. Aili Makela found Michelle Weinberg inside the 18-yard box. And Weinberg put one past keeper Abby Oettinger to avoid the shutout. Oettinger finished the night with two saves.
The Hodags appeared they would earn a 6-1 victory, but the continued playing until the final whistle. Zettler would tack on her second goal of the night in the final minute of action to put RHS ahead 7-1.
Rhinelander was back in action in Antigo on Friday, where they continued their offensive momentum and tallied seven first half goals and invoked the mercy rule with 23 minutes left in the match.
In the GNC victory, the Hodags had nine different players score on the night. Franson led the way in assists with five on the night and Zettler led the way in goals with two.
Lauren Fabich, one of the Hodags' top defenders opened the scoring for Rhinelander and they never looked back. Izzy Haverkampf, Anna Sturzl, and both of Zettler's goals were assisted from Franson. Zettler and Sturzl also each recorded one assist.
Madi Losch, Albiona Sabani, and Payton Van Zile also tallied goals for the Hodags. And Jayden Olski would give RHS their 10th goal of the night, to end the game in the 67th minute.
Rhinelander will be on the road against rival Ashland on Tuesday night, and with a victory they could clench their sixth straight Great Northern Conference title.
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