History did not repeat itself in the 2022 WIAA Division 2 boys soccer opener between New Richmond and Sparta.
Last year, Sparta upset the top-seeded Tigers in overtime. The Tigers made sure there was no upset this season. Led by a school record seven goals from Roshane Samuels, the second-seeded Tigers defeated No. 7 Sparta, 8-0. The Tigers will host sixth seed Holmen at 7 p.m. Saturday in the second round of tournament play. Holmen upset La Crosse Central, the third seed, by a 1-0 score in Tuesday’s round. In the other half of Saturday’s subsectional semifinal, River Falls will host Tomah.
The Tigers took charge right away in Tuesday’s game. Senior Andrew Blattner took a shot from 25 yards out and placed into the opposite upper corner of the goal for the first score of the game.
Like last season’s playoff game, Sparta had packed eight defenders within 20 yards of their own goal. This year, the Tigers were ready for this strategy. They took a number of shots from outside 20 yards that resulted in rebounds that Samuels and other Tigers pounced upon. Samuels scored his first goal at 22:52 off a rebound of a shot by Zaylin Sweet. He scored again off a cross from Bennett Heiss. The dagger came when Samuels scored with six seconds remaining in the first half on a rebound from a Blattner shot that caromed off the crossbar.
New Richmond coach Darian Blattner said knowing that Sparta was likely going to play the same style as in last season’s playoff game was huge in planning for this year’s game.
“Understanding that they’d play way more defensively, we spent a week on how we attack with eight guys in the box,” Blattner said.
Samuels scored five minutes into the second half and kept on the charge. His seventh goal came at 71:19 on a header right in front of the Sparta keeper. That goal breaks the school record of six goals held by Michael Benedict. Benedict and A.J. Johnson had five-goals to their credit.
Coach Blattner credited the Tigers’ midfielders and outside mids for playing well in the game by getting the ball into scoring position and helping the Tigers to maintain possession of the ball for a large portion of the game. Tiger goalie Malaki Pethes didn’t touch the ball until the 38th minute of the game.
The win is the 18th of the season for the Tigers. This is the 16th time the Tigers have held their opponents without a goal in a game.