Raiders finish GNC play by scoring goals, achieving a goal
MEDFORD GIRLS SOCCER
When the Medford Raiders needed some offense Tuesday, they got it late in the second half and achieved their preseason goal of an upper-half finish in the Great Northern Conference with a 3-2 win at Northland Pines.
The victory put Medford at 5-5 in the GNC, good for third place behind Lakeland (10-0) and Rhinelander (8-2). The Raiders’ late-season three-game win streak in conference play vaulted them past Pines and Mosinee, who both finished 3-6-1 in league play.
The Raiders recorded the program’s first-ever two-game regular-season sweep of Northland Pines in GNC play. Medford won the first game 1-0 on May 2.
“We’re scoring goals, which we haven’t always had, but to do it now is a good sign heading into the playoffs,” head coach Tanya Tessmann said.
Medford did not lead Tuesday’s game until the time it mattered most.
A handball violation just four minutes in led to a direct kick and a goal by the Eagles’ strong sophomore Grace Plank at the 4:29 mark. She hit the upper right corner on her shot. The Raiders got their equalizer at 19:02 when Megan Schaefer nailed a long shot for an unassisted goal.
It stayed 1-1 into halftime. Plank put the Eagles back on top early in the second half at 53:16, sailing a long chip shot to the upper left corner above Medford goal keeper Sophia Brunner. But the Raiders had an offensive answer.
At 62:50 Anna Gierl just missed on a chance to tie, sending a free kick just high and wide to the right. Exactly three minutes later, Medford got another shot with senior Kierstyn Halopka sending a through ball to the middle where her pass connected with Mallory Richter. Richter’s shot got inside the post to knot the game at 2-2.
Just 33 seconds later, Sierra Tessmann got control of the ball, weaved her way around a couple of Eagle defenders and blasted a shot from just outside the goalie box that found the back of the net to give Medford the lead.
From there Medford held off a couple of Pines runs, including one where Talyn Peterson made a big play on to stop it.
Medford had a slight 15-14 edge in shots, but Pines only put five of its shots on net with Brunner making three saves, two in the first half and one in the second. Schaefer led Medford in shots with four, Tessmann had three and Madison Clarkson, Richter, Valeria Polendo Soto, Shayla Radlinger, Gierl and Makenna Tlusty also got shots off.
Medford won the JV game 4-2 with goals from Natalie Preuss, Sydney Sperl, Layla Petersen and Audrey Ruesch.
The Raiders, 6-12 overall, won’t see any easy competition the rest of the way.
First, they’ll host Ashland today, Thursday, at 4:30 p.m. at Raider Field to close out the regular season. The Oredockers are 14-2-2 and earned the top seed in the WIAA Division 3 sectional bracket.
Then, on June 1, the sixth-seeded Raiders will visit third-seeded Rhinelander in a 7 p.m. WIAA Division 3 regional semifinal. The Hodags beat the Raiders 6-0 and 4-0 this spring in GNC contests.
“Ashland will be good preparation for what we’ll see against Rhinelander,” coach Tessmann said. “It will be good to see what we can hold them to.”
Rhinelander features a tough one-two punch in forwards Ava Lamers and Sophia Miljevich, who did most of the damage in the Hodags’ wins over Medford. But Tessmann said she’s encouraged by some of the long periods of time the Raiders kept Rhinelander off the board in each game and she said an all-out defensive approach will be needed to beat the Hodags.
“We were looking to be more aggressive to the ball and be first to the ball (against Pines) and that’s what we’re going to have to carry into next week,” she said. “We know we can hold them. We had good halves against them in each game. Even if we can hold them and take it into a PK shootout, we’d take that.”
Medford 8, Antigo 0
The Raiders made the right passes and were accurate with their shots Thursday while earning an 8-0 win at Antigo.
Radlinger, a sophomore, recorded her first varsity hat trick and Polendo Soto added two goals to lead the Raiders, who doubled their previous highest scoring outburst of the season in the win.
Most of the scoring came in the second half after, according to coach Tessmann, the Raiders got used to the grass field at Antigo and the wind and how they were affecting the soccer ball.
The Raiders took 50 shots in their first meeting with Antigo but wound up only winning by a 2-0 margin. This time, Tessmann said, the execution was sharper once the girls settled in.
“We were able to get some through balls, which gave us some chances where it was just our player against the goalie, so we were able to take our time and make a good shot,” Tessmann said. “We also did a good job of feeding the ball back to the center from our wings and that gave us a few more good shots.”
The first goal came about 17 minutes in and came off a corner kick by Sierra Tessmann. Schaefer got to the kick first and tried to head it into the net. That didn’t work, but the ball found Hannah Kapitz, who pushed it back to Schaefer, who nailed the shot this time.
About seven minutes later, good passing from Halopka and Bayley Metz got the ball to Schaefer who sent a perfect through ball to Radlinger, who won her one-on-one with Antigo’s goal keeper for a 2-0. That’s where the game stood after the 40-minute first half.
The avalanche of second-half goals started 5:55 in when Sierra Tessmann banged in a shot from just outside the 18-yard goalie box after deftly working around a defender. At the 48-minute mark, Polendo Soto got her first goal, taking a through ball from Clarkson, dribbling in and making the shot.
The Raiders got two goals just a few moments apart just after the game got past the 60-minute mark. Tessmann sent a through ball to Radlinger, who took her time and made a strong kick with her left foot to make it 5-0. Polendo Soto got the next one shortly after that, knocking home a rebound off a shot by Richter.
At 65:59, Richter chipped a beautiful shot over the goal keeper to make it 7-0. The game ended just over four minutes early via the mercy rule at 75:55 when Tessmann again fed Radlinger on a through ball and she made her breakaway shot.
Medford finished with 40 shots taken and 21 being on goal. Richter got off nine shots, Tessmann took eight and Alexis Szydel took six. Brunner had to make just one save early on.
“It took a little while for us to get going,” coach Tessmann said. “For a couple of minutes they had the ball on our end for a bit. We had a lot of good talking out there. We passed the ball well. It was a fun game for team. Hopefully we can take the momentum into Tuesday. We’re going to keep working on making our runs and anticipating those passes. When we get the ball, we’re working on being creative with it.”