Rhinelander goalkeeper Gavin Ostermann leaps to pluck a shot out of the air during the second half of a Great Northern Conference boys’ soccer game against Lakeland at IncredibleBank Field in Minocqua Thursday, Oct. 3. Ostermann recorded seven saves as Rhinelander tied Lakeland 1-1 — the Hodags fifth tie of the season and fourth in the last five games. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
10/5/2019 7:30:00 AM Fit to be tied ... again Hodags draw for fourth time in five games, play Lakeland to 1-1 tie
MINOCQUA - When the clock struck 90 minutes and Rhinelander High School boys' soccer coach Nathan Bates looked up at the scoreboard on Thursday night, all he could do was shake his head and smile.
What he saw was an all too familiar sight for the Hodags - yet another game that ended in a tie. This time around Lakeland scored in the 62nd minute, and had plenty of other quality scoring chances in the second half, but the Hodags did enough to preserve a 1-1 deadlock at IncredibleBank Field.
"I've got nothing," Bates said, chuckling after Rhinelander's fifth tie of the season and fourth in its last five contests. "Like I said before, it's better than a loss. We've got a young team here and I'm looking forward to the future with them. It's not what we wanted, but, I'll take it over the loss."
The scoring turned into a matchup of Beau versus Boh. Rhinelander's Beau Howard scored his first career varsity goal in the 40th minute to give Rhinelander a 1-0 lead. Lakeland's Brandon Boh, one of the most dangerous attackers in the conference, tied it on a breakaway chance in the 62nd minute as the Hodags and T-Birds played to their third draw in four games over the last two seasons.
"Lakeland's always a tough game," Bates said. "We knew coming in, it comes down to the wire every single time we play them. The kids did good tonight, better than they did the other night."
Lakeland misfired on a number of scoring chances early in the contest. Boh rang a shot of the right post in the seventh minute and then later missed high and hit the football crossbar on an open look in the 23rd minute and Collin Quade headed a Kyle Bengtson corner kick off the woodwork in the 26th minute.
Rhinelander did not have near the same number of scoring chances in the opening 45 minutes, but made good on one late in the first half as Howard was in position to put in a rebound after Lakeland goalkeeper Vincent Strong denied a hard-struck shot from Joseph Heck.
"Beau had a great follow up. Joseph had a great shot, the goalie fumbled it and Beau was exactly where he should have been," Bates said.
Lakeland, which was called offsides three times in the first half, did better timing its runs against Rhinelander's offsides trap in the second half, and had a few breakaway chances as a result. Quade had a look in the 48th minute that was deflected wide and then Kyle Peterson put Boh on a run through the middle of the Hodag defense in the 61st minute. Boh rocketed a shot straight on keeper Gavin Ostermann that Ostermann punched high into the air before coming up with a save.
Less than a minute later, Boh sprinted through the middle of the Rhinelander defense again. This time, he didn't miss and pulled the T-Birds level.
"Brandon's always a strong competitor and our defense kind of underestimated him and had a lapse for a second there and he got it," Bates said. "I knew it was going to happen if we didn't keep on him. I kept yelling to the boys to say on him and, well, that's what happens."
Boh nearly gave Lakeland the lead in the 67th minute as he dribbled around Ostermann, who came out to challenge a breakaway attempt at the top of the 18. But the maneuver allowed defender Harri Shinners enough time to recover and clear away Boh's opportunity at an open net.
In the 74th minute Bengtson chipped a pass back to Austin Kellner and Ostermann made a sprawling save moving to his left to preserve the tie.
"Gavin had some high-flying saves again, kept us in the game," Bates said of Ostermann's seven-save performance.
Rhinelander, whose only win of the season so far came over Lakeland Sept. 5 in Rhinelander, had a couple of chances to score another last-minute win against the T-Birds. Joseph Heck sent in a shot from 40 yards that slipped through Strong's hands in the 84th minute, but Strong caught enough of the shot to deflect it wide left of the goal. Tucker Frederickson misfired high on a shot from 35 yards shortly after an ensuing corner kick.
Freshman Shane Petrick had a look from 25 yards in the 87th minute, but Petrick hooked a shot from 25 yards wide left.
"We had a couple opportunities at the end of the game. Close, but not there," Bates said.
Lakeland outshot Rhinelander 23-13 in the match and had an 8-6 edge in shots on goal. Rhinelander's record moved to 1-7-5 overall, and 1-2-4 in the GNC, with the tie.
The Hodags are in Denmark this morning to play in a six-team invitational.
NOTE: Rhinelander midfielder Hugh Wiese, who was seen leaving Monday's game against Three Lakes on crutches with a shin injury, started and played most of the match for Rhinelander. Bates credited athletic trainer Eric Prom for creating a special pad for Wiese to protect the shin. "He made a silicone padding for him for his shin because it's still really, really sensitive but, by doing so, it worked really well it seemed like," Bates said.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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