It wasn’t easy, but the Hudson boys’ soccer team was able to pull away for a 4-1 victory over D.C. Everest Saturday for its fifth straight WIAA Division 1 regional title last Saturday at Raider Stadium to set up a third meeting with Eau Claire Memorial in a sectional semifinal game Thursday night, Oct. 28.
The top-seeded Raiders found themselves trailing early Saturday when the fifth-seeded Evergreens knocked in a loose ball in front of the net midway through the first half.
Head coach Steve Sollom said the goal seemed to rattle the Raiders and put them on their heels for the next 10 minutes before they were able to tie it up at halftime and score three times in the second half to put the game away.
“We had a great response in the second half and overcame a start in which we were in a battle and weren't ahead in the first 10 minutes as we have been recently,” Sollom said. “It's easy to get frustrated and lose focus when things aren't going well, and some of our guys did just that. So hopefully we learn from the experience because it won't be the last time we have some adversity.”
Sollom may have alluded to the Raiders’ next opponent– second-seeded Eau Claire Memorial– in this Thursday’s sectional semifinal. The teams played to a 4-4 tie in Eau Claire and Hudson took a 2-1 win in their two previous meetings.
Last Saturday against D.C. Everest the Raiders were able to get the equalizer just before halftime when Darren Chukel redirected a free kick to the far post and Connor Sparling was there to put it away.
Sollom said the Raiders made some adjustments at halftime and were able to pressure the Evergreens into mistakes.
“We kept it in their end for stretches and got some corner kicks, which ended up being the difference,” he said.
Alex Ewig got the go-ahead goal off Hudson’s first corner kick of the half, just three minutes in and 10 minutes later, Noah Bekemeyer chipped the ball over the head of the charging D.C. Everest goalkeeper to make it a 3-1 game.
The Evergreens began to press and the Raiders responded when Frank Gutierrez played the ball to Trevor Nava-Barber for the final goal of the game just three minutes later.
Earlier in the week Bekemeyer tallied a hat trick and Sparling scored two goals to spark the Raiders to a 9-0 victory over Eau Claire North in the regional semifinals.
Hudson scored twice in the first ten minutes on long shots by Chukel and Ross before Bekemeyer and Sparling took care of the rest.
“Eau Claire was going to park in front of their goal and hope to counter and sneak one in at some point, but our early goals didn't allow for that,” Sollom noted. “The kids played with a lot of energy and came out on their front foot and I think our aggressiveness led to a lot of turnovers and some easy chances.”