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Raider girls split games with Eau Claire teams

Members of the Raider girls soccer team mob junior Brooke Gottschalk (11) after Gottschalk scored the first goal of the game off a corner kick to give Hudson a 1-0 lead in its Big Rivers Conference showdown with Eau Claire Memorial last Friday night at the middle school field. Memorial came back with five unanswered goals to hand the Raiders their first BRC loss of the season, 5-3. (Hudson Star-Observer photos by Bob Burrows)1 / 2
Hudson junior defender Emily Ryder steals the ball from an Eau Claire Memorial attacker in the first half of the Raiders 5-3 loss to the Old Abes last Friday night at the middle school field.2 / 2

The Raider girls soccer team defeated Eau Claire North, 3-0, last Tuesday night to set up a showdown for first place Friday with Eau Claire Memorial. But after scoring the first goal of the game against the Old Abes, Memorial answered with five unanswered goals to hand Hudson its first Big Rivers Conference loss of the season, 5-3.

The outcome left Eau Claire Memorial alone in first place in the BRC with a record of 5-0-0 (8-3-3 overall), while Hudson is one-half game behind at 5-1-0 (10-2-1 overall).

The week started on a high note when senior captain Alexa Haines scored just 2 minutes, 30 seconds into the game, assisted by junior Maggie Koehler, to give the Raiders a 1-0 lead last Tuesday against Eau Claire North (3-4-0, 3-7-1).

Koehler scored an unassisted goal later in the half to extend Hudson’s lead to 2-0, before junior midfielder Kate Sanocki closed out the scoring in the 48th minute with assists going to both Koehler and junior midfielder Kate Johnson.

Raider head coach John Knutson called it a “quality win” in the BRC.

“While they are all important games, we had some concerns because North has beaten some teams in the BRC that have given us a tough time,” he said.

The Raiders dominated the Huskies, outshooting them 25-2 in the win.

First place was on the line Friday as the undefeated Raiders and Old Abes squared off on the middle school field.

Hudson struck first when senior captain Lauren Berglund sent a perfectly placed corner kick into the box, where junior midfielder Brooke Gottschalk executed the set play to perfection by striking it past the Old Abe goalkeeper three minutes into the game.

The Old Abes came right back, however, scoring twice to take a 2-1 lead into the break, then scoring three goals in the second half to widen the gap to 5-1.

Hudson didn’t let down, however, and midfielder Sanocki moved up to forward and assisted on late game goals by Haines and Koehler to make the final 5-3.

“We needed to do something different to create opportunities to score,” Knutson sad about the strategy. “Obviously it's a gamble, with a good team taking a defender out of the mix because with only three defenders, Memorial could have easily scored five more goals with fewer Raiders defending our goal. Luckily for us the strategy of adding that extra attacker on top worked. While it worked, it was too little, too late, and we couldn't catch them.”

Knutson said he was proud of the way the Raiders continued to compete after falling behind by four goals.

“The good news is that the girls didn't give up and they played hard right to the 80th minute,” he said. “It's easy for teams to get down when you're losing by four goals; our girls kept working hard and they deserve credit for that.”

The Raiders return to action Thursday, May 15, at home against Rice Lake at 7 p.m. and visit New Richmond for a nonconference game Friday, May 16, at 4:30 p.m. before traveling to Eau Claire for a rematch with the Old Abes Tuesday, May 20.

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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