Rhinelander’s Harri Shinners looks to prevent a breakaway by Medford’s Christian Di Benedetto during a Great Northern Conference boys’ soccer game at Mike Webster Stadium Thursday, Oct. 17. (Bob Mainhardt for the River News)
10/19/2019 7:35:00 AM Medford edges Hodag soccer 1-0 to earn GNC share
The Rhinelander High School boys' soccer team tried to play the role of spoiler on Thursday night and nearly accomplished the mission.
Medford's AJ Adleman converted a penalty kick in the 76th minute, which proved to be the only score as the Raiders defeated the Hodags 1-0 at Mike Webster Stadium.
With a win or a tie, Rhinelander could have denied Medford the Great Northern Conference title. The Raiders ended up splitting the conference title with Northland Pines after the Eagles routed Mosinee 6-0 earlier on Thursday.
The deciding play proved to be a hard Medford shot kicked in the direction of Hugh Wiese in the 76th minute, just inside the box. Wiese could not get out of the way in time and the ball caught him in the right upper arm. That triggered the handball penalty that led to the winning kick. Adleman struck a hard shot just inside the right post.
"It was a back and forth game the whole game," Hodag coach Nathan Bates said. "We had a lot of deadly attacks, they had a lot of deadly attacks on us. I'll tell you the boys left it all on the field tonight. They played their butts off. Unfortunate a handball cost us the game."
The goal was ultimately the only thing that separated the sides in an evenly-played game. Medford outshot Rhinelander 25-22 overall, but the Hodags had a 10-9 edge in shots on goal.
The Hodags had a couple of chances to draw level later in the contest. Harri Shinners' shot from 25 yards was deflected wide right by a defender and the Hodags could not do much with the subsequent corner kick. Moments later Wiese had a look from 25 yards that was tracking just underneath the crossbar, but Medford keeper Brady Hupf was able to snatch it away for a save.
"Toward the end here, we had some scrambles in front of their net. It was close. I'm proud of every single one of them. They played their butts off," Bates said.
The result was much better than the first meeting between the sides four weeks ago in Medford.
That night the Raiders were the benefactor of a controversial goal in the 78th minute that appeared to strike the football crossbar, which broke a 2-2 tie and propelled Medford to a 5-2 win.
"From last time, we had an unfortunate game with them early in the year, but the growth during the season from Day 1 until now, the boys were contenders," Bates said. "If we would have played this way the whole season we would have been contenders for conference this year."
Gavin Ostermann made eight saves in defeat for Rhinelander.
Rhinelander finished the regular season 3-8-5 and finished fourth in the GNC with a 3-3-4 mark. Lakeland moved ahead of Rhinelander in the standings with a 6-0 win over Antigo on Thursday. Rhinelander and Lakeland will meet Tuesday at Mike Webster Stadium to open the WIAA playoffs. The Hodags are 1-0-1 against the T-Birds this season.
"It'll be back and forth. We've got one win, one tie and we'll see what happens," Bates said. "The boys have been playing really good ball lately. It's going to be a tight game. It always is."
Jeremy Mayo may be reached at email@example.com.
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