Holmen Sparta Soccer

Holmen High School’s Quintin Olson (18) celebrates a during a regular-season game against Sparta. The second-seeded Vikings play at top-seeded New Richmond on Thursday in a WIAA Division 2 sectional semifinal.

ERIK Daily, La Crosse Tribune

HOLMEN — Jonah Johnson has a busy weekend ahead.

The Holmen High School junior is trying to make it even busier by helping his soccer team continue the deepest run it has ever made in the WIAA playoffs.

Johnson’s schedule already includes a Division 2 sectional semifinal at top-seeded New Richmond today. He will then go to Menomonie, Wis., to kick for the football team in a second-round playoff game on Friday.

His focus today is getting the second-seeded Vikings (17-2-4) a sectional soccer final against either Pulaski (17-4-3) or Wausau East (11-10-1) on Saturday, and Johnson and the rest of the defense will have to play well to make it happen.

New Richmond (16-6-1) supplied Holmen with one of its few bad memories of the season when it scored three second-half goals to beat the Vikings 5-3 just over one month ago.

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Guy Turner mug

Turner

The fact that Holmen held a 3-2 halftime lead should give it confidence, but it has to find a way to make sure the second half goes its way this time if it wants to move within one victory of its first WIAA state tournament.

“They came back on us the first time, and they have two players who they put the ball through most of the time,” said Holmen first-year coach Guy Turner, who was an assistant during last year’s 3-11-3 performance. “We’ve played other teams with prolific scorers, and we have to be ready for them.”

Andrew Johnson has 43 goals and 14 assists, and teammate Tyler Blattner has 19 goals and 12 assists for the Tigers, who have lost one of their last 10 games and average 4.5 goals per contest.

Andrew Johnson scored three times the first time he played the Vikings, and Jonah Johnson, Sean Rieck and Ben Labuzzetta are key pieces to a defense that can’t let that happen again.

One thing Turner likes about his defense is its level of offensive mentality. The group has done a very good job of defending the goal in front of sophomore Jackson Lutz, but it has also served as a jump-start to the offense.

“For Sean, Ben, (Zachary) Patros, Grant (Lambert) and I, that’s just the way we play,” Jonah Johnson said. “It’s natural for us to flow to the outsides and push up (the field).

“Sean and I work really hard to get up and down the field, and I feel like all players should do that if they want to play at a high level.”

The Vikings have shut out six opponents this season, and five of them have come in the last seven games. Holmen is 7-0-1 since losing to New Richmond on Sept. 23 and has outscored those opponents 29-4.

“I don’t think we need to adjust too many things for this game,” Turner said. “We have to be ready for Johnson and Blattner. We’ve played against them once and have played against other players of their caliber, so I think we’ll be ready.”

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