Rhinelander goalkeeper Kahlie Arneson stretches to try to save a shot during a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game against Marshfield at the RHS soccer fields Thursday, June 6. Rhinelander’s season came to an end with a 4-0 loss to the Tigers Thursday. (Photos by Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
Marshfield’s Nina Hashimoto shoots between Rhinelander’s Marisa McGuire (11) and Emma Roberts (9) during the second half of a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal game against Marshfield at the RHS soccer fields Thursday, June 6. Hashimoto, Marshfield’s team leader in goals, scored on the shot — one of three goals she scored in the Tigers’ 4-0 victory.
6/8/2019 7:30:00 AM Tamed by the Tigers Hashimoto's hat trick leads Marshfield past Hodags 4-0 in sectional semifinals
When the Rhinelander High School girls' soccer team played a regular season game against Marshfield May 4 in Rhinelander, the stats were virtually even between the teams, but the Hodags were the more opportunistic side and earned a 2-0 victory.
On Thursday, in a rematch with a trip to the sectional finals on the line, the two teams switched roles.
Marshfield's Nina Hashimoto scored three times and the Hodags failed to convert on several good scoring chances - including a penalty kick - in a 4-0 loss to the Tigers at the RHS soccer fields.
For Marshfield, it marked the team's first tournament victory over Rhinelander since 2012, after losing to the Hodags in 2016 and 2017. For Rhinelander, the loss denied the team its fourth sectional final appearance in the last six years.
"It was a tough game," Rhinelander coach Richard Kotula said. "It's tough to lose a game at home, especially for the seniors because it's their last game. To finish like this, it hurts, but we had some pretty good success this year. I'm happy about how we have played some really tough opponents, and how we got better as a team."
Hashimoto, who now has 38 goals on the season for the Tigers, put Marshfield on the board in the 12th minute, and then added a couple of late insurance goals after the Hodags missed a spate of opportunities to draw level.
Hashimoto's first goal came off a free kick from Nicole Simon, which was served perfectly into the box to Hashimoto's head for a redirect that beat Rhinelander goalkeeper Kahlie Arneson to keeper's right.
Rhinelander's attack seemed to come to life after the goal. Kotula said Marshfield's early goal forced the Hodags to change their tactics.
"As soon as we started losing 1-0 in the game, we took our defensive mindset completely off and we were focused more on an offensive mindset, trying to create opportunities," he said.
Rhinelander created opportunities, but could not convert them to goals as only three of the 14 shots the team attempted in the match finished on goal.
Izzy Haverkampf took a free kick that slipped through keeper Mikayla Brueggen's hands in the 27th minute and caromed left of the goal. Rhinelander was not able to generate a good look off the ensuing corner kick. Kenedy Van Zile had space from 15 yards in the 31st minute, but put a left-footer shot straight on Brueggen. Brooke Mork just missed high as she tried for the top right corner from distance in the 32nd minute and Jaden Olski's attempt from the left side of the box in the 37th minute rang off the crossbar.
Then, in the 45th minute, just before halftime, Marshfield was called for a handball in the box, giving Rhinelander a penalty kick. Haverkampf missed the shot wide right.
Kotula said he sympathized with his leading scorer and downplayed the affect the miss had on the remainder of the contest.
"I felt bad for Izzy and she took it to heart, but you're just under so much stress," he said. "The goalkeeper isn't under stress, it's the kick. Everyone's eyes are on Izzy, all the players are counting on her. Sometimes that stress gets to you and sometimes you're not as successful as you wish you would be. But I don't think it affected (the game). I told the girls it was fine. We didn't really need a PK. We can score a goal from the field. We tried in the second half. We created some opportunities, but we couldn't finish."
The Hodags had a few more chances early in the second half, but couldn't put a shot on target. Kenedy Van Zile missed high on a shot from the byline off a corner kick in the 61st minute, Haverkampf found Eleanor Steffen wide open in the middle of the field in the 66th minute, but the freshman pushed her shot wide left with Brueggen bearing down. Haverkampf tried to redirect with her knee a Gwyn Lowry cross in the 70th minute, but that too sailed wide left.
Moments later, Marshfield found breathing room as Simon found Hashimoto between defenders inside the box and Hashimoto tucked a shot past Arneson to make it 2-0. Sophia Gruenling scored from distance for the Tigers in the 81st minute and Hashimoto completed her hat trick with a nifty turn-around shot from 15 yards in the 89th minute.
"We knew that she's a talented player," Kotula said of Hashimoto. "Hat's off to her and what she's accomplished this year. I believe she broke the school record in goals playing us today. She had a lot of talent, definitely a bright future for her in soccer and she's very smart. We knew, coming into this game, that was how it was going to be but, at some point, when we veered off from the defensive mindset, we kept her open more and more and created more opportunities for her."
Arneson recorded seven saves in defeat for the Hodags, who are still looking for their first trip back to the WIAA state tournament since 2015. Rhinelander finished with a 11-5-0 record following their second-straight runner-up finish in the Great Northern Conference.
"I'm proud of them, proud of the seniors," Kotula said. "A lot of them have been in this program for a long time and the difference they have made and the effect they have made on their teammates - their support and mentorship - is something we need to value.
"The program needs to go strong. We're going to definitely miss the seniors that are departing. We're going to look to fill some major shoes on the pitch. We're counting on the current players to step up. I saw some good stuff today from some of the underclassmen. When they were on the field, they played with heart. They know it too, those seniors need to be replaced. Some middle school students are coming that have some strengths as well. We're going to continue to build this program the way it has always been built in the past."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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