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Wildcat soccer opens with 3 shutout wins

At left, Wildcat senior Tanner Heinselman lets a shot fly from just outside the penalty box in the first half of River Falls' 2-0 victory over Onalaska Aug. 14 at Wildcat Field. Earlier in the day Heinselman scored on two penalty kicks in a 2-0 victory over La Crosse Aquinas. At right, Wildcat junior Tom Fusilier gets his head on a cross in the first half of the Cats' 2-0 win over Onalaska last Tuesday at Wildcat Field. River Falls also defeated La Crosse Aquinas, 2-0, earlier in the day and topped Wa...

The Cats defeated La Crosse Aquinas and Onalaska by identical 2-0 scores in a pair of games Aug. 14 before posting a 5-0 victory over Wausau West Aug. 16 in Eau Claire.

"Anytime you go 3-0 you can't be too disappointed," head coach Charles Conley said. "The season is young, and we certainly have some things to work on, but I thought some young guys got some good experience and you can see our comfort level as a group getting better."

Tanner Heinselman scored a pair of penalty kick goals in the win over Aquinas while Griffin Lacek accounted for both scores in the victory over Onalaska. Lacek tallied a hat trick Thursday in the Cats' 5-0 win over Wausau West.

"Griffin Lacek scored five goals this week and is looking very sharp up top," Conley said. "Sid Young is playing next to Griffin and has tallied a few assists on goals to Griffin and Tanner. We got off to a slow start against Aquinas and half by half improved throughout the day. Defense was solid all week; three shutouts and very few shots even attempted. It was a very strong effort. I hope this is something that we can continue to make even better."

Conley said one thing the Wildcats have this season that they lacked in the past is depth. He said a pair of freshmen -- Damion Overby and Hart Shelton-Davies -- have emerged as starters after the first week. "You don't see that often at this level."

Conley also said he expects junior Ryan Bjornstal to return from an injury soon at contribute.

"There are a few others who we know have potential to start, that will start off as reserves, but can move into a starting role very easily," Conley said. "Hopefully this continues to create competition in our starting lineup, ultimately making us better."

The Cats hosted Rice Lake this past Tuesday and will visit Eau Claire Memorial on Thursday before hosting New Richmond in a nonconference game Friday at 4:30 p.m. at Wildcat Field.

"All in all, I am happy with how we've started and think this group has potential," Conley said. "But we need to continue to work at it."

Bob Burrows
Bob Burrows has been sports editor at the River Falls Journal since 1996 and at the Hudson Star-Observer since 2009. Prior to joining the Journal, Burrows served as sports editor with Ledger Publications in Balsam Lake, Wis. A native of Bayonne, N.J. and a U.S. Navy veteran, Burrows attended Marquette University before completing his studies at UW-River Falls in 1992.
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