By Steve Hill
May 20, 2019
With playoff seedings now announced and the Wisconsin Valley Conference title almost a foregone conclusion, Tuesday’s D.C. Everest-Wisconsin Rapids girls soccer game has become primarily a question of momentum.
In Everest’s case, it will try to keep a good thing going. Rapids, meanwhile, will attempt to grab back some of the energy it lost over the weekend in a pair of close tournament defeats.
Everest (18-1-1 overall, 10-0-0 WVC) and the Red Raiders (9-5-2, 8-1-1 WVC) had been headed toward a climactic game at Washington Elementary until Marshfield’s tie with Rapids on May 7 threw a complicating factor into the equation. While both teams have won all their conference games since, No. 6-ranked Everest’s game-and-half lead with two games to play means Rapids is not holding its breath over the WVC title.
“We know it’s pretty far-fetched for the other things that would have to happen,” Rapids coach Nate Cleveland said Monday. “Our attitude today is whatever is going to happen is going to happen, but we’re going to put our best foot forward and play our best soccer tomorrow that we can.”
Even if Rapids defeats Everest tomorrow, it would need a victory from sixth-place Merrill (which is 1-10 in WVC play) over the Evergreens to win the WVC title outright, or a tie to share it with Everest.
Given that Merrill has not beaten Everest since joining the WVC in 2011 — it has, in fact, only four conference wins and two draws over that stretch — it’s a tall order for the Division 2 squad against one of the state’s best, a team that will soon start eliciting natural comparisons to the Evergreen squad that won the 2015 state title.
Cleveland said his team is particularly disappointed about giving up an early goal against De Pere in a Friday night game at last week’s D.C. Everest invitational tournament. That had the Raiders playing from behind all game and, even though they outshot De Pere, they couldn’t rein the game back in.
That may have made the difference in Rapids ending up with a No. 11 seed in the sectional playoffs while De Pere got a No. 7 seed and a first-round home game.
A second 1-0 Rapids loss, to Eau Claire Memorial after the seedings had been determined earlier Saturday morning, sealed a disappointing weekend for the Raiders. But there is a silver lining for his team, Cleveland said.
“I think they all know that first of all, we can hang with all these teams in the sectional and keep the margin of victory to simply being able to take advantage of an opportunity when it comes,” he said.
Both Cleveland and Everest coach Lucas Kollross are expecting a competitive, physical game Tuesday. Kollross said Monday his team has a goal of running the table in WVC play and knows Rapids will pack its defense and come hard at the Evergreens.
“Based off the way they played us the last few times, they’re going to get numbers behind the ball, but they’ll try to capitalize off of any of our miscues,” he said.
“Rapids is a good test, and we could end up playing them in the second round of the playoffs. We want to show them our best.”
Playoff seedings favor Everest, Marshfield, East
Three of the seven WVC teams were seeded high enough to host first-round games in the playoffs. Division 2 teams Marshfield and East were seeded No. 2 and No. 3, respectively, in the seven-team Regional B of Sectional 1, while Everest took a No. 3 seed in the larger 17-team Sectional 1 of Division 1.
Marshfield will host No. 7 seed Antigo at 5 p.m. in Griese Park May 28, and East will host No. 6 Shawano at Wausau East High School at 3 p.m. on the 28th. If both win, they’ll meet in Marshfield June 1, the third game between the two teams this year.
They tied 2-2 on April 23, while the Tigers beat East 3-1 May 16.
Marshfield missed out on the region’s No. 1 seed by losing to Rhinelander 2-0 at Rhinelander May 4. The Hodags get a bye next Tuesday because of the uneven number of teams in the region and will play the winner of No. 4 Merrill and No. 5 Hortonville on June 1.
Everest, at No. 3, will take on 14th-seeded Eau Claire North (5-9-4, 4-4-3 and 5th place in the eight-team Big Rivers Conference) in Weston May 28.
If they win, the Evergreens will host the winner of the game between No. 11 Rapids and No. 6 Appleton North (13-3-2, 6-0-2 and tied for first, Fox Valley Association). That game will be held in Appleton next Tuesday.
SPASH fell to a No. 13 regional seed and will travel to No. 4 seed Hudson (16-2-0, 10-0-0 and first place, Big Rivers). Hudson is the only team to beat Everest this year and is increasingly likely to reach the state’s top 10 after losing to only No. 3-ranked Kimberly and Sectional 3’s No. 2 seed, Middleton, earlier in the season.
Kimberly is Sectional 1’s top seed and next Tuesday hosts the winner of a Saturday play-in game between 16th-seeded Superior and No. 17 Chippewa Falls, both of the Big Rivers Conference.
The other seeds in the WVC’s sectional are No. 2 Bay Port, which hosts No. 15 Wausau West on Tuesday; No. 5 Appleton East, which hosts No. 12 Neenah; and No. 8 Appleton West, which hosts No. 9 Green Bay Preble Tuesday.
Final WVC games this week
Before the playoffs do arrive, there is a small amount of unfinished business in the WVC this week. In addition to Tuesday’s Rapids-Everest contest, there are two other games: Wausau West at Marshfield at 5 p.m. and Wausau East visiting the Portage County Youth Soccer complex at 7 p.m. to play SPASH.
Thursday’s games include SPASH traveling to West for a 5 p.m. game, while Rapids will simultaneously play at East. Everest’s 7 p.m. home game with Merrill will wrap up the WVC schedule, and if all goes according to form, it will be Everest’s sixth conference title in seven years.