Posted on

Another Player of Year in Ekwueme family; 9 Raiders earn GNC honors

Another Player of Year in Ekwueme family; 9 Raiders earn GNC honors Another Player of Year in Ekwueme family; 9 Raiders earn GNC honors




The Medford Raiders now have two Great Northern Conference Players of the Year in their 10-year history of varsity boys soccer.

Those two players just happen to share the same last name.

Senior Onyi Ekwueme followed up his older brother Osy’s back-to-back Offensive Player of the Year awards from 2015 and 2016 by sharing one of his own when the 2019 All-GNC team was announced last week. He splits the award with Liam Oas of Northland Pines, who won the award outright a year ago.

Ekwueme’s honor headlined the biggest year Medford has ever had when it comes to the All-GNC vote. Nine Raiders earned some kind of award, far exceeding the program’s 2015 record.

This fall marked the second-best season Medford has had as the Raiders went 7-1-2 in conference play and earned a share of their first-ever GNC title under first-year head coach Nathan Bilodeau, tying 6-0-4 Northland Pines for the top spot. The Raiders went 11-6-4 overall and reached the regional final round of the WIAA Division 3 tournament, where they tied Fox Valley Lutheran 4-4 through double overtime and then lost in a penalty-kick shootout.

Senior Cooper Wild joined Ekwueme on the All-GNC first team. AJ Adleman, Owen Wipf, Colton Gowey and Gage Neubauer all landed on the second team for their first All-GNC soccer awards. Ty Baker, Brady Hupf and Kale Klussendorf all earned honorable mention.

Ekwueme is one of five unanimous first-team selections by the league’s head coaches in this year’s voting. It’s his second straight first-team selection.

It comes as no surprise after he ranked second in the GNC with nine goals while playing in nine of Medford’s 10 league games. He added three assists for 21 points, which ranked second behind the 25 totaled by Oas. Oas had 10 goals and five assists for Pines, who is playing this weekend at the WIAA Division 4 state tournament in Milwaukee.

Ekwueme scored 12 goals and had seven assists overall during the 2019 season.

An accomplished ball handler and the centerpiece of Medford’s offense, Ekwueme had three goals and two assists in Medford’s 6-1 win at Antigo on Oct. 8 and two goals and an assist in a 6-2 home win over the Robins on Sept. 10.

He had the game-winning goal, a header off a Klussendorf corner kick, late in a pivotal 2-1 win over Lakeland on Sept. 26 and he had Medford’s lone goal in a 1-1 tie with Northland Pines on Oct. 10. His ability to pass was showcased in regional play with an early assist to Adleman in Medford’s 5-0 semifinal win over Amherst/Iola-Scandinavia and two gorgeous assists to Neubauer in the final with Fox Valley Lutheran.

Wild, who earned honorable mention last fall, scored just one goal this season. It came in the early-season win over Antigo. But scoring wasn’t his job. Wild spearheaded the back line of Medford’s defense along with Baker and Hupf, the team’s third-year goal keeper. Their play, along with the efforts of teammates Dylan Wickersheim, Jake Brunner and Christian Di Benedetto were major reasons why Medford shut out their opponents six times this fall, including twice in conference play.

Hupf ranked third in GNC save percentage at .877 with 71 saves on 81 shots faced and ranked third with his one goal allowed per game average. Baker had one assist in conference play and his lone goal of the season was a big one, tying Fox Valley Lutheran in the second overtime of the regional final.

Adleman and Neubauer emerged as big scoring threats for Medford in 2019, tying for the team lead in overall goals with 16.

Neubauer, a sophomore, scored eight GNC goals to tie Lakeland’s Brandon Boh for third in the conference rankings. With one assist, he finished with 17 points to tie Adleman for fifth in the league. Adleman scored seven GNC goals and had three assists.

Neubauer’s breakout game was a four-goal effort in Medford’s 5-2 win over Rhinelander on Sept. 19, a win that sparked the team’s second-half run toward the conference title. He also had a hat trick in the regional final against Fox Valley Lutheran and had the first goal in the 2-1 win over Lakeland.

Adleman displayed Medford’s strongest leg. His penalty kick was the only goal in Medford’s 1-0 title-clinching win at Rhinelander on Oct. 17. He made a tough kick that gave the Raiders their only goal in a 1-1 tie at Northland Pines Sept. 17 and he had two goals in the Sept. 10 win over Antigo. He had two assist in the Oct. 8 win over the Red Robins.

Adleman had a hat trick in the regional win over Amherst and scored twice in both games of a Sept. 7 triangular Medford hosted, a 4-3 loss to Arcadia and a 12-0 win over Altoona-Fall Creek.

Wipf was one of Medford’s most active players from his center-mid position and the speedy Gowey challenged defenses from a wing position. Wipf had two goals and an assist in league play, including a key second-half goal in an early-season 4-0 win over Mosinee on Sept. 5. He added a third goal, scoring once in the win over Altoona-Fall Creek. Gowey had a goal and three assists in league play, scoring the momentum-changing, second-half goal in a 5-1 win at Mosinee on Oct. 3. He had two goals overall, adding one against Altoona-Fall Creek.

In his first varsity season, Klussendorf, a sophomore, became an impact player at the other wing position. In GNC play, he had a goal in the win at Mosinee and tied for sixth in the GNC rankings with four assists, including two in the 2-1 win over Lakeland. He had Medford’s first goal of the season, the game-winner in the second half of the Raiders’ 1-0 win over Baldwin-Woodville on Aug. 27.

Duarte Pedro of Mosinee, Oas, Hugh Wiese of Rhinelander and Colby Kruse of Northland Pines joined Ekwueme as unanimous first-team selections. Brady Snedden, Brett Wilkins and Alex Sternhagen of Pines and Boh and Collin Quade of Lakeland filled out the first team. Kruse, the goal keeper for Northland


Cooper Wild First Team

AJ Adleman Second Team

Gage Neubauer Second Team

Ty Baker Hon. Mention

Owen Wipf Second Team

Brady Hupf Hon. Mention

Colton Gowey Second Team

Kale Klussendorf Hon. Mention Pines, was named the GNC Defensive Player of the Year after leading the conference in save percentage (.926) and goals against average (0.52).

Mark Pinski of Northland Pines was named the GNC Coach of the Year for the second straight year. The 15-

3-4 Eagles play Sturgeon Bay today, Thursday, in a Division 4 state semifinal. The Eagles are the GNC’s first boys soccer state qualifier since the league formed in