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Booters finish on high note

Wildcat freshman Martin Walker (5) slides a pass between a New Richmond defender and the sideline in the second half of the Cats' 3-2 overtime win over the Tigers Saturday at Wildcat Field. River Falls opened WIAA regional play Tuesday at Eau Claire North. Bob Burrows photo

After losing seven of their first eight games of the season, the Wildcat boys' soccer team has won seven of its last nine heading into WIAA regional play this week.

The Cats' latest victory came on a frigid Wildcat Field Saturday by a 3-2 score over New Richmond in overtime.

River Falls, which finished the regular season with a record of 9-10 and drew a No. 12 seed in the 16-team sectional, opened regional play Tuesday at No. 5 Eau Claire North. The winner will face either No. 4 Marshfield or No. 13 Merrill Thursday at the home of the higher seed. Check for results.

Saturday's win came despite a late-game surge by New Richmond, which received the No. 10 seed in the sectional, to tie the score and force overtime.

"That may have been the worst game we have played in awhile," Wildcat coach Charles Conley said. "But a sign of a good team is one that can pull it out when still not playing their best."

Junior Zane Heinselman had staked the Cats to a 2-0 lead with a pair of goals -- an unassisted tally in the first half and a second half score assisted by Jimmy Ekman. But New Richmond scored with just under 15 minutes remaining and again with four minutes left to tie the score.

Heinsleman's third goal of the game roughly 10 minutes into overtime gave the Wildcats the win.

"Zane should be around 20 or more goals (for the season)," Conley said. "He's had a heck of a year."

Conley said he's proud of the way the Wildcats have responded after their slow start to the season while learning a new defense, and he looks forward to good things in the future.

"But we have some work to do tomorrow against Eau Claire North first," he said Monday.