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Booters pick up big road win at CF

River Falls' freshman Griffin Lacek (6) and Hudson's Ian Hey go toe-to-toe for control of the ball in the second half of the Raiders' 3-0 win over the Wildcats Thursday in River Falls.Bob Burrows photo

The Wildcat soccer team split a pair of Big Rivers Conference matches last week, picking up a big 4-3 road victory at Chippewa Falls last Tuesday before falling to first-place Hudson, 3-0, Thursday at home.

The Cats, now 3-6-0 in the BRC, 5-9-0 overall, traveled to second place Eau Claire Memorial (7-0-1 BRC) Tuesday and will host Menomonie (0-9-0) Thursday at 4:30 p.m. before hosting the River Falls Quad Tournament Saturday beginning at 10 a.m.

Last Tuesday, head coach Charles Conley said the Cats played, "...maybe our best half of the year," in the first half at Chippewa Falls wile jumping out to a 4-1 lead.

"We came out fired up and had probably our best warm up of the year, so it was no coincidence that the boys played so well," he said. "We have to harness this and carry it over to future matches."

Less than five minutes into the match, the Cats were up 2-0 thanks to goals by juniors Zane Heinselman and Austin Saari. Heinselman's tally was unassisted while he picked up an assist on the goal by Saari.

Senior Kelly Karis gave River Falls a 3-0 lead with an unassisted goal 30 minutes in before Chippewa scored a minute later to make it a 3-1 game. Heinselman's second goal of the game, again unassisted, three minutes before intermission gave the Wildcats a 4-1 halftime lead.

Chippewa Falls celebrated senior night at halftime and also hosted a tribute to a teammate who was killed in a car accident over the summer. Conley said he knew the Cardinals would come out fired up in the second half, and fired up they were, scoring twice in a 10-minute stretch to pull to within a goal, 4-3.

"I was disappointed that we had prepared the boys for this to happen, yet we did not match their intensity in the second half," Conley said. "I was however, proud that we hung on for the victory."

The Cardinals finished with a 12-8 shots-on-goal advantage as Wildcat junior goalkeeper Karl Andersen made four saves to record the win. Chippewa slipped to 4-4 with the loss.

Thursday at River Falls, the Raiders improved to 7-1-1 with a 3-0 win over the Wildcats. They played to a 2-2 double overtime tie with Eau Claire North Monday to take a one-point lead over Eau Claire Memorial in the conference standings.

"We were extremely flat," Conley said about the loss to the Raiders. "I was very disappointed and the guys knew it. We are playing better, but that is a team we can beat. We just need to be more consistent, but we will have those games. It's all part of the growing process."