Raiders defeat Old Abes in double OT, gain 1st place tie in BRC
The Raider girls soccer team posted one of the biggest wins in the program’s recent history when it knocked off defending Big Rivers Conference co-champion Eau Claire Memorial, 2-1, in double overtime last Tuesday in Eau Claire.
The Old Abes came into the game undefeated in BRC play while Hudson’s lone conference loss was a 5-3 setback to the Old Abes back on May 9 in Hudson.
The win moved Hudson into a tie for first place in the BRC with the Old Abes, and the Raiders remained there after a 2-1 victory over Chippewa Falls last Thursday.
Both Hudson and Eau Claire Memorial are 9-1-0 in BRC play with two games left. Hudson visited River Falls (3-5-1) this past Tuesday after press time and will travel to Eau Claire North (6-5) Thursday, May 29, while the Old Abes have Rice Lake (1-5-3) and Menomonie (0-6-3) remaining. The Raiders last conference championship came in 2000.
“It's been years since Hudson has beaten the Old Abes so to come to their home field in Eau Claire and dominate them offensively like we did was terrific,” Raider coach John Knuston said, noting the Raiders outshot the Old Abes 24-7. “Our midfielders held up exceptionally well and the defense was spectacular today.”
Knutson had particular praise for freshman goalkeeper Karyn Chukel, who played all 98 minutes of the grueling affair and finished with seven saves.
“Her instincts were good and she stopped several breakaways today,” Knutson said. “Kudos to Chukel tonight.”
Hudson opened the scoring six minutes into the game when senior Lauren Berglund sent a corner kick into the goal box where fellow senior Alexa Haines volleyed it into the back of the net for her conference-leading 20th goal of the season.
“Bergie sent a beautiful corner in and Haines finished it just like we wanted,” Knutson said.
The Old Abes answered less than two minutes later but that was all the scoring the two teams could muster through 80 minutes of regulation.
After a scoreless first overtime session of ten minutes, senior co-captain Marki Thompson captured a bouncing rebound in the goal box area and sent a left-footed shot past the outstretched arms of the Memorial goalkeeper to win the game in the 98th minute. If the game reached 100 minutes, it would have gone down as a 1-1 tie.
Two nights later at home against Chippewa Falls, the Raiders kept pace with the Old Abes by recording a 2-1 victory over Chippewa Falls.
For the second straight game Berglund helped get things started by sending a corner kick into the box, where junior Maggie Koehler timed it perfectly and headed it into the back of the net.
“It was a terrific corner taken by Bergie, and a spectacular directional header that the Chippewa Falls goalkeeper didn't have a chance on,” Knutson said.
Chukel caught a knee to her left eye ten minutes into the contest and was forced to leave the game. Junior midfielder Kate Johnson stepped in to play the remainder of the game.
“Karyn wears sports glasses, which luckily took the brunt of the collision, but Karyn ended up going down for several minutes stunned from the contact,” Knutson noted. “She is most certainly going to have a colorful shiner from that collision. One thing's for certain; Karyn is a very tough kid. Her aggressive style of play helped us to beat Eau Claire Memorial and we certainly hope she's OK and will be back playing again soon.”
After the Cardinals tied it up, Koehler tallied her second goal of the game, this one assisted by Kate Sanocki in the 69th minute.
“The talent of this team has been evident from the pre-season, but the resiliency of this team, when they face adversity has been inspiring,” Knutson said. “They've come from behind to win. They've persevered through some injuries, they have fought hard physically when they have needed to and stood up for themselves when they had to. It's really an honor and a privilege coaching this group of girls. They are a special bunch.”