Alayna Franson carries the ball upfield during a Great Northern Conference girls’ soccer game between Rhinelander and Mosinee high schools Tuesday, April 18 at Mike Webster Stadium. Franson played a role in all nine Hodag goals Monday and Tuesday, with two goals and seven assists, in a 4-0 win over Wausau East and a 5-1 victory over Mosinee. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
4/20/2017 7:33:00 AM RHS girls' soccer hungry despite back-to-back wins
A pair of four-goal wins on consecutive days would be enough to please most coaches - but apparently not Rhinelander High School girls' soccer coach Dan Millot.
Rhinelander's offense looked tough to stop at times as the Hodags defeated Wausau East 4-0 Monday and Mosinee 5-1 Tuesday. But following Tuesday's win, Millot asked his team in the postgame huddle if it was satisfied with the way it played in the two contest.
Millot decidedly was not and implored his team to find an extra gear with a Great Northern Conference showdown against Ashland looming Thursday.
"They're wins, but I think the quality of our play needs to improve drastically," he said. "Right now we're stepping on the field and going through motions. We're not polishing anything and we need to start polishing our product."
Rhinelander 4, Wausau East 0
Sydney Zettler scored twice and the Hodags got a lot of help from Alayna Franson en route to a 4-0 victory over the Lumberjacks Monday in a game played at the RHS soccer fields.
After struggling over the first 20 minutes to produce chances in the attacking third, the Hodags got things sorted out with three goals in the first half and another in the second.
"The four goals that we did finish tonight were nice finishes," Millot said. "I think you had some people that were pressing things a little bit. We're still not taking care of the ball the way we need to and, again, we have to work on that."
All four of Rhinelander's goals had a common thread: an assist from the left foot of junior midfielder Alayna Franson. She and Zettler worked a breakaway to perfection in the 24th minute with Franson making a late pass to Zettler for the finish. Franson crossed a ball to the back post for freshman Kenedy Van Zile in the 32nd minute, had a similar assist on Zettler's header goal in the 37th minute, and set up Albiona Sabani for a finish from near the penalty spot in the 52nd minute.
"She does a really nice job attacking the box and attacking the outside," Millot said of Franson. "People are starting to learn to get on the end of those crosses, on the end of her slotted balls. She's playing very unselfish and it's paying off for her."
The Hodags led 3-0 at halftime despite being outshot by Wausau East 8-7 over the first 45 minutes. The Hodags controlled the second half and finished with a 21-12 edge in total shots. Senior keeper Abby Oettinger was called upon to make six saves in Rhinelander's first shutout of the season.
East had a couple of chances late to take away Rhinelander's clean sheet. Oettinger beat Allison Kane to a through ball at the top of the 18 in the 79th minute and stopped a Leah Blaskowski shot from just beyond the 18 a short time later.
With losses against sectional opponents Pulaski and Green Bay Southwest already on the Hodags' ledger, Monday's win over Wausau East was an important victory as the Hodags try to bolster their resume to host at least one playoff game when the WIAA Division 2 tournament commences in June.
"We need to make sure that we continue to play well and we'll have a few more sectional opponents down the road here in a few weeks. We just have to keep playing well," Millot said.
Monday's game was played in front of RHS to accommodate for a middle school track meet at Mike Webster Stadium.
Rhinelander 5, Mosinee 1
Franson's impressive offensive form continued Tuesday as she scored twice and assisted on Rhinelander's other three goals in a 5-1 triumph over the Indians.
The junior has had a hand in Rhinelander's last 10 goals, dating back to an assist in the game-winner on the Hodags' 2-1 victory last Thursday at Northland Pines.
She slotted a ball through traffic to Zettler who finished from 15 yards out to give the Hodags the lead for good Tuesday in the 30th minute. Then, after a string of seven consecutive assists, Franson was finally on the receiving end of a couple of goals early in the second half. Zettler made a deep run into the Mosinee box and squared a pass to Franson at the top of the six-yard box in the 48th minute. Then, in the 51st, Franson made a long run off a pass up the right flank by Sabani and finished from roughly 15 yards out.
Franson returned to her giving ways in the 75th minute, setting up Sabani for the game's final tally.
"The finishes are high quality and I have no problem with them, or the services," Millot said. "Alayna Franson right now is just serving the ball. She definitely leads our team in assists and she had a few more tonight. Our services really aren't the problem, it's getting on the end of those services with a quality touch. Again, we'll just look to improve that."
Izzy Haverkampf gave the Hodags the lead in the fourth minute of the match, but her goal was canceled out in the 16th when Michelle Weinberg converted from the penalty spot after Rhinelander committed a handball in its own box following a corner kick. The play turned out to be Mosinee's best scoring opportunity of the match.
"They really didn't threaten us tonight," Millot said. "Even the PK wasn't that great of a threat. It was just an unfortunate handball, a girl trying to protect her face, and we just didn't make things happen. They didn't have much and the only time they had anything going for them is when we had changes in our lineup and our positioning. It's just what it is."
For all the goals the Hodags scored in their last two matches, there were just as many opportunities - if not more - that went awry.
That's something Millot says the Hodags need to fix to beat the likes of Ashland, Pulaski and Green Bay Southwest.
"It was frustrating," he said. "Again, we took a lot of shots and put them right on the keeper. We're struggling in the attacking third and we shouldn't be. We have experienced players up there and what needs to happen is we need to pull the trigger. We're tending to hang on to the ball either too long, or we're making the next pass that doesn't need to be made. We just need people that want to put the ball in the back of the net."
The Hodags wil return to action Thursday night and will host Ashland at Mike Webster Stadium. The Oredockers (5-0-2, 4-0-0 Great Northern) are undefeated on the season and were the team that snapped Rhinelander's 49-game conference unbeaten streak last May.
"Ashland's going to be tough," Millot said. "They're probably playing better than any team in the conference right now and we definitely have to step up and bring our best game."
Kickoff is set for 7 p.m.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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