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Hudson soccer drops opener to Eau Claire Memorial

Hudson junior Sadie Gray, in white uniform, battles Eau Claire Memorial's Katelyn Fladten for control of the ball near midfield in the first half of the Raider girls' soccer team's season opener against the Old Abes Thursday evening at the middle school field. Memorial scored a pair of second half goals in handing the Raiders a 3-0 defeat. Photo by Bob Burrows

It's never easy playing your first game of the season against one of the conference favorites, especially when the other team has three games, and three wins, already under its belt.

But that was the scenario the Raider girls' soccer team faced in its season opener last Thursday, April 12 against Eau Claire Memorial at the middle school field. The Old Abes, fresh off a 6-1 victory over Chippewa Falls two days earlier, put plenty of pressure on the Raider defense but were clinging to a 1-0 halftime lead thanks to the play of Hudson goalkeeper Megan Nelson and the Raider defense.

Memorial broke through for two more goals in the second half and left town with a 3-0 victory to improve to 4-0 overall, 2-0 in the Big Rivers Conference.

The Raiders, meanwhile, returned to the pitch this past Tuesday, April 17 to face Menomonie (2-3-1, 0-1-1) and will host defending BRC champion River Falls (2-1-1, 1-0-1) Thursday, April 19, at 7 p.m. Hudson will play its fourth straight home game Tuesday, April 24, when Rice Lake (2-2-0, 0-1-0) comes to town for a 7 p.m. contest.

Raider head coach Allie Knutson said last week's loss to the Old Abes was disappointing, but felt her team would learn from it.

"It really proves that we have a lot of work to do," she said. "And honestly, Memorial was probably the best team we could have played in our first game because they are consistently solid and skilled. So our result with them shows how we fare at this point with some of the top competition."

After falling behind 1-0 in the 19th minute, the Raiders kept the Old Abes out of the net until the 51st minute. Memorial scored its third goal with under five minutes remaining to make the final 3-0.

Despite being outshot 20-4, the Raiders had a few scoring opportunities, including midway through the first half when a one-timer by Alyssa Claflin from short-range bounced off the crossbar.

Knutson said there were a number of good things to take away from the game.

"I thought we played incredibly hard, and I am optimistic about what this team can do this season," she said. "And though the score doesn't show it, there were some really good things happening on the field for us."

Among the good things was the play of senior goalkeeper Nelson, who finished with nine saves.

"She played fantastic," Knutson said. "I feel very confident having her between the posts."

Raider JV falls 2-1

Freshman forward Ashley Hall scored in the first minute of the second half to cut Eau Claire Memorial's lead in half but that's as close as Hudson could get in a 5-1 loss to the Old Abes in last Thursday's junior varsity game.

Memorial outshot Hudson 38-4.

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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