It was a rough start for the Tomah High School boys soccer team, but the Timberwolves played their best soccer in October.
That included the WIAA Division 2 Regional semifinal loss at New Richmond Oct. 19 in the opening round of the post-season. While the final score was 5-0, Tomah coach Scott Conzemius said his team had competitive moments against what is likely the best team the Timberwolves played all season. He said the Timberwolves had two excellent scoring chances in the first half and could have gone into halftime trailing just 3-2.
“Different from our past experiences against New Richmond, our guys respected but did not fear New Richmond,” Conzemius said. “We made them defend and keep their shape. Several times we caused their defense troubles. Despite the score line, I thought the match was tighter than appearances.”
Once again, the outcome came down to Tomah’s struggle to finish off scoring chances.
“Our struggle all season was scoring, and that proved to rear its ugly head again in this match,” Conzemius said.
He added that “New Richmond is a quality team; they deserved the win,” and the Tigers confirmed that assessment as they marched to the state tournament defeating four teams by a 17-2 margin.
The Tigers blanked Merrill in the sectional final 3-0 and will face Whitefish Bay in a state tourney semifinal in Milwaukee Thursday.
Tomah finished the season with a 3-14-0 record.
“Obviously there is a large amount of disappointment about the season from both the players and coaches,” Conzemius said. “The expectation is not to lose, especially not the way we did this year.”
However, the level of play improved considerably late in the season. The Timberwolves were more competitive in rematches with the top Mississippi Valley Conference teams, and they ended the regular season with a two-match winning streak.
“Despite those disappointments, the way we ended the season was a huge step in the right direction,” Conzemius said “The second half of the season is indicative of those improvements: score lines were tighter, we scored more goals, posted some shutouts, gave up fewer shots, gave up less penalties and created more attacking moments.”
The Timberwolves lose just four seniors from this year’s team, and Conzemius is optimistic heading into next year.
“We talked all season about changing the culture of the program,” he said. “The best thing I can say about this season is the boys started to change the cultural of losing into the culture of believing in themselves through hard work and positive attitudes. This team now believes they can compete with just about anyone, and we all look forward to the challenge of proving that next season.”