The Rhinelander High School girls' soccer team opened the first round of Great Northern Conference tournament action with a 7-0 win on senior night on Thursday. The Hodags also honored their six seniors and had seven different players score on the night, including three seniors as they blanked Wausau Newman at the RHS soccer fields.
All six seniors (Emma Hjelle, Brooke Mork, Emma Roberts, Payton Van Zile, Jaden Olski,and Tina Kansariwala) started and rotated through the attacking position for a majority of the first half. It was a slow start as the team had to adjust to their positions especially that half of the seniors are starting defenders. RHS would take a 1-0 lead at halftime but would hit their stride in the second half and charted six goals from there.
Rhinelander had plenty of early opportunities on goal, but were unable to capitalize until late in the second half. They also had six shots in the first 25 minutes that were right at keeper Alex Frankel.
Junior Lisa White started in goal on the night, while sophomore Kahlie Arneson got to play on the field. Arneson got a hold of a loose ball in the box and delivered a shot that hit a hand of one of the Cardinals packed-in defenders. Senior Brooke Mork took the penalty kick in the 34th minute and connected to the bottom left corner to put the Hodags on the board.
RHS came out strong and took control in the second half and would tally five goals in the matter of 23 minutes and would tack on one more in the final minute. Senior Jaden Olski scored in just over a minute into the second half on shot to the top left corner.
Just moments later Gwyn Lowry took a direct free kick in front of the Hodags bench and junior Izzy Havekampf received and tapped a pass to Ella Schiek that connected to the top right corner to put RHS up 3-0 Haverkampf then scored in the 55th minute on an assist from Schiek.
The Hodags then scored off one o their 14 corner kicks in the 65th minute. Arneson settled the deep cross and fired a shot 22-yard back that tucked inside the top right corner. It also marked Rhinelander's starting goalie Arneson's second goal this season.
Senior Payton Van Zile and junior Kenedy Van Zile scored the Hodags final two goals of the match. In the 68th minute Payton returned a give and go pass to her sister Kenedy who got passed two defenders and tapped a shot in to the bottom right corner. And with 50 seconds left in the game, senior Emma Hjelle had a well placed cross that Payton Van Zile used to score in the top left corner.
Wausau Newman's only shot on in the second half would come with 11 seconds remaining when junior defender Madi Losch was called for a hold in the box giving the Cardinals a penalty kick. But Jaida Hein put pulled her shot against White wide and to the right, as RHS held on for yet another shutout.
Rhinelander outshot the Cardinals 28-2 overall and 19-0 on shots on goal. RHS advanced to 6-1 in the GNC standings and 7-3 overall and they remain one game behind Ashland.
The Hodags will be back in action Saturday morning for a non-conference match against Holmen that is part of the D.C. Everest Invite in Weston. Then RHS will host Lakeland for the first round of the GNC tournament on Tuesday evening.