Rhinelander tops Marshfield in WIAA Division 2 boys soccer regional semifinal
By Paul Lecker
MARSHFIELD – A year ago, the Marshfield boys soccer team made a magical run through the WIAA playoffs all the way to the state tournament.
The Tigers nearly made more magic with an incredible comeback Tuesday in a WIAA Division 2 regional semifinal, but came up just short, falling 4-3 to Rhinelander at Griese Park.
Rhinelander led 4-1 as Chris Kjeve netted a hat trick in the first half before the Tigers came out strong and cut the deficit to one with 15:31 remaining.
Marshfield, playing with a strong wind at its back in the second half, controlled the ball for nearly all of the final 15 minutes but couldn’t get another one past Rhinelander goalkeeper Bryce White.
Marshfield ends its season with a 10-8-4 record. Rhinelander improves to 10-5-2 and will play at top-seeded Pulaski in a Division 2 regional final Thursday.
“It’s too bad, sometimes, that the season is defined by the final playoff game,” Marshfield coach Steve McCann said. “We had high expectations with a lot of guys returning from a state appearance last year, so it’s a real disappointment. We played some really nice games recently and thought we were peaking coming into the playoffs.”
Kjeve scored 17:13 into the game to give the Hodags the early lead, but it was short-lived as Marshfield’s Chris Pahl responded just 1:34 later to tie it up.
Rhinelander, using that wind, scored three times in a 15-minute span to take control.
Kjeve scored twice and assisted on a goal by Devin Oleinik to give the Hodags at 4-1 lead going into halftime.
“They had the early wind advantage and took full advantage of it,” McCann said. “Our keeper made a couple of nice saves to keep us in it early, then they got a couple of goals. We fought back really hard. I am proud of the kids in the second half and we played a good second half for sure.”
Thomas Kruger scored 7 minutes into the second half and Hunter McManus brought the Tigers to within a goal with 5:31 to go as he knocked in a goal off a deflection by White.
White finished with 10 saves, including two in the final minutes.
Hodags 4, Tigers 3
Rhinelander 4 0 – 4
Marshfield 1 2 – 3
First half: 1. R, Chris Kjeve (Gunnar Millot), 17:13; 2. M, Chris Paul, 18:47; 3. R, Kjeve, 28:47; 4. R, Kjeve, 40:55; 5. R, Devin Oleinik (Kjeve), 43:51.
Second half: 6. M, Thomas Kruger, 52:00; 7. M, Hunter McManus, 74:29.
Saves: R, Bryce White 10; M, Trevyn Tham 4.
Shots on goal: Rhinelander 8; Marshfield 13.
Corner kicks: Rhinelander 9; Marshfield 9.
Records: Rhinelander 10-5-2; Marshfield 10-8-4.
(Hub City Times Sports Reporter Paul Lecker is also the publisher of MarshfieldAreaSports.com).