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Raider soccer regional champs

Hudson junior Alex Schnobrich rips a shot from just inside the penalty box in the first half of the Raiders' 4-0 victory over Menomonie in a WIAA regional final game last Thursday at the middle school field.

After blowing out Superior, 10-0, in their WIAA regional semifinal last Tuesday, the Raider boys' soccer team played what head coach Steve Sollom called, "the worst 20 minutes of soccer we've had all season," in Thursday's regional final against Menomonie.

In the end the Raiders were able to overcome their struggles, posting their second straight playoff shutout to win the regional title with a 4-0 victory.

"We didn't handle adversity very well and it nearly cost us," Sollom said. "I expect the next two games to be much closer contests and we'll need to be a lot better both physically and mentally if we hope to win."

Second-seeded Hudson will host No. 3 Wausau East in a sectional semifinal this Thursday, Oct. 18, at 6 p.m. at the middle school field. A win would send the Raiders to the sectional final game against either top-seed Eau Claire Memorial or No. 12 Eau Claire North Saturday, Oct. 20, at 2 p.m. in Chippewa Falls.

After scoring at will in last Tuesday's regional semifinal against Superior, the Raiders struggled for scoring opportunities Thursday against No. 10 Menomonie, who had upset seventh-seeded New Richmond two days earlier.

"The game was the complete opposite of the Superior match," Sollom said. "Menomonie packed in their defense and wouldn't let us get behind them. Their defenders blocked several chances and we missed several other good opportunities, and there were a few puzzling non-calls, and somehow they held us scoreless."

Sollom said the longer this went on, the more frustrated Hudson became.

"Midway through the half we lost our composure, and for the rest of the half we played the worst 20 minutes of soccer we've had all season, and Menomonie clearly was gaining momentum and were fired up that they were keeping us tied."

Sollom said the Raiders came out with a better attitude and more determination in the second half, and in the second minute, Rocky Harmon and Alex Schnobrich combined on a nice passing combination to put one past the keeper.

"It was a huge momentum shift and we were energized," Sollom said. "The remainder of the match was played in their end."

Alek Spasic found Caleb Ondrusik for a goal four minutes later, before Schnobrich scored two more goals just a minute apart 15 minutes into the half to make it a 4-0 game.

"At that point we subbed everyone and coasted the rest of the way," Sollom said. "Hopefully we learned some things from this game, as it very well could have turned out differently."

Hudson had a much easier time two days earlier against No. 15 seed Superior, racing to a 6-0 halftime lead before scoring four more second half goals to end the game by virtue of the 60-minute mercy rule.

"They came out playing very aggressive and tried to pressure the ball all over the field," Sollom said. "Unfortunately, this left them vulnerable in the back, and we beat them over the top time after time with long ball.

Schnobrich had a hat trick in the win while Henry Brose had two goals and two assists. Ondrusik and Rocky Harmon added a goal apiece while Parker Shefveland and Ian Schrack picked up their first career varsity goals.

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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