Four goalkeepers in three games isn’t an ideal way to start the season, but that’s the hand the Tomah High School boys soccer team was dealt.
Tomah was forced to juggle goalkeepers while trying to match up with two quality opponents last week, and the result was a 3-1 Mississippi Valley Conference loss to West Salem Thursday and a 7-1 nonconference drubbing against River Falls.
When asked how much Tomah’s goalkeeping situation impacted the outcomes, Tomah coach Scott Conzemius replied, “massively.”
“You put a trained goalie in the net, and you would like to think 7-1 turns into a game that’s a lot tighter,” Conzemius said Friday.
The Timberwolves were just fine at goalkeeper until the 52nd minute of their opening victory against La Crosse Aquinas. Starter Zach Jorgensen had to leave the game after an ugly collision in front of the net, and Riley Habelman, who had never played goaltender before, manned the net for the final 38 minutes.
Dylan Derousseau was pressed into service against West Salem and responded with 13 saves. Carson Lindauer drew the assignment against River Falls.
Lindauer wasn’t able to finish the River Falls contest. He absorbed a hard, short shot to the mid-section in the 58th minute and left the field with Derousseau taking his place.
“Dusty and Carson did amazing jobs stepping in with about an hour’s worth of practice,” Conzemius said. “Today’s was Carson’s first-ever game at goaltender.”
Tomah was able to sustain an offensive attack both games. Tomah put 15 shots on goal against West Salem and scored when Isaiah Nick converted an assist from Nate Boulton.
The Timberwolves put four shots on goal against River Falls. Tomah’s goal came in the 32nd minute, when Joe Venner scored off a Boulton assist.
Conzemius hopes his goalkeeper crisis is short-term. He doesn’t believe Jorgensen’s injury is serious and believes he could return as early at the Sept. 3 contest against Sparta.
Goalkeeper isn’t the only position with an injury problem. Tomah was also without top defender Isaiah Nick, who was kept out of the River Falls match as a precautionary measure, and two others in the defensive rotation were sidelined.
Conzemius looks forward to seeing what the team can do after the disabled list shrinks.
“We can be competitive,” he said. “We’re using the bumps and the bruises as a learning experience.”