Rhinelander’s Nick St. Pierre chips a shot over Antigo goalkeeper Cordell Umland for a goal during the second half of a Great Northern Conference boys’ soccer game at Listle Field in Antigo Thursday, Oct. 10. St. Pierre recorded two goals and an assist in Rhinelander’s 3-0 victory. (Jeremy Mayo/River News)
10/12/2019 7:30:00 AM A saintly lift St. Pierre scores twice, assists in Rhinelander's 3-0 win over Antigo
ANTIGO - Things appear to be coming together for the Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team as the end of the regular season draws near.
The Hodags got a pair of goals and an assist from senior Nick St. Pierre, and won back-to-back games for the first time this season, as they defeated Antigo 3-0 at Listle Field on Thursday.
The first half of the game was similar to the first meeting between the two teams - when Antigo snapped a 79-match conference losing streak with a 1-1 draw against the Hodags. Rhinelander controlled possession and the shot count, but had only a 1-0 lead to show for it.
That changed early in the second as St. Pierre scored his second of the match. Hugh Wiese added an insurance goal and the Hodags cruised the rest of the way.
"The kids played well tonight. Our passing was actually pretty good tonight," Hodag coach Nathan Bates said. "The first half the kids didn't go out there with 100 percent intensity. We kind of got on them at halftime about that and the second half they definitely brought it around."
St. Pierre, an all-Great Northern Conference selection a year ago, did not start the season with the team - electing to run cross country instead. He returned a couple of weeks ago and notched his first goals on Thursday.
His opening tally came in the 13th minute as freshman Shane Petrick chipped a pass into the box that found St. Pierre in space roughly 12 yards from goal. St. Pierre tucked the shot inside the left post to give Rhinelander a 1-0 lead.
St. Pierre struck again in the 50th minute when Harri Shinners sent a ball from the midfield into the box. St. Pierre got on the end of the deep pass and chipped a shot over Antigo goalkeeper Cordell Umland to double the advantage.
"He puts a lot of pressure on defenses with his speed. He's doing a great job," Bates said of what St. Pierre brings to the team. "We've got to work a little on finishing with him the rest of the season, but it's great to have him back."
St. Pierre got into the offense one more time in the 72nd minute as he chipped a pass to Wiese roughly 30 yards from goal. Wiese did the rest, steering a shot through defenders and inside the left post.
Antigo finished with six shots in the game, but no real dangerous scoring chances to speak of. Gavin Ostermann recorded two saves in as the team posted its second consecutive shutout, and third of the season.
"The kids were pretty pumped up. They didn't underestimate Antigo at all tonight and they came out and showed it," Bates said. "Our main focus tonight was to get together as a team and work on our passing and finish strong. The kids did that. They did really well."
Umland finished with 16 saves in the loss for Antigo. The Robins finished the match with 10 players after senior midfielder Brody Bunnell was sent off in the 90th minute for his second yellow card of the match.
Playoff matchup set
Rhinelander's recent surge came too little too late to move the needle much when it came to playoff seeding. The Hodags received the eighth-seed in a 10-team Division 3 bracket and will face a familiar foe with the tournament begins Oct. 22 - ninth-seeded Lakeland.
Though Lakeland has a better overall record than the Hodags, Rhinelander went 1-0-1 against the T-Birds during the regular season, with a 2-1 win in Rhinelander Sept. 5 and a 1-1 draw in Minocqua last Thursday.
"We're going to have a battle with Lakeland like always and we'll see what happens," Bates said. "We took them out once and had a tie, great game, last time. They're a great competitor. I'm not going to underestimate them."
Waupaca earned the No. 1 seed and awaits the winner of the Rhinelander-Lakeland matchup in the regional semifinals Oct. 24 in Waupaca. Medford, which holds a half-game lead over Northland Pines in the GNC standings after the teams played to a 1-1 draw on Thursday, is the No. 2 seed.
"It is a very wide open bracket. Everyone in the regional is a contender right now," Bates said. "Anything can happen. It's been such a close run through the conference. We started off a little late this year and now we're getting things together. In my opinion, it's anyone's game."
Rhinelander hosts Merrill Tuesday night. The team's game today at Ashland was canceled due to weather.
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Northwoods River News | Walker Communications, LLC 232 S. Courtney Street, Rhinelander, WI 54501 | Office (715) 365-6397 | Fax (715) 365-6361
Corporate billing office: The Lakeland Times / Lakeland Printing Inc. | P.O. Box 790, Minocqua, WI 54548 | (715) 356-5236 | Fax (715) 358-2121 Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Association, Wisconsin Community Papers, Rhinelander Area Chamber of Commerce, Minocqua Area Chamber of Commerce