After every game, win or lose, the Marshfield boys soccer team runs across the field to thank its supporters.
After Tuesday’s 3-1 victory over Stevens Point Area Senior High at Griese Park, the fans and Tigers players celebrated together along the side of the field, and for good reason.
Marshfield clinched its first outright Wisconsin Valley Conference title and no other teams, not even second place Wisconsin Rapids, whom the Tigers play on Thursday at Washington Field, can change that.
Marshfield now has 27 points and second-place Rapids sits at 19. D.C. Everest edged Rapids 2-1 in double overtime to take the Raiders completely out of the picture, no matter what happens during Thursday’s regular season finale at Washington Field. Marshfield and Wausau West tied for first in 2005. Five of the conference teams have won or shared league championships, only D.C. Everest and Merrill have not.
“It’s pretty surreal,” Marshfield senior captain Austin Gilbert said. “The last three years we never thought about winning it, but we thought we had a chance at the beginning of the season. During the second half we started watching the stats and saw that we could wrap up the outright title tonight with a win.”
Added fellow captain Matt McCann, “We were excited for this week. During the weekend and yesterday when we heard (Wausau) East beat (Wausau) West, we knew we had a chance (to clinch a conference title) here today and we did it and this feels awesome to have accomplished our goal. It’s nice to be able to just go to Rapids and play a soccer game and not worry about the conference race. We can go into that game, play our style and try to build some more momentum for the playoffs.”
No team was able to go undefeated this year, but Marshfield found a way to stay ahead of the rest of the Valley.
“We just tried to play our style of soccer,” Gilbert said. “We focused on what we had to do, not what the other teams did.”
Clinching before Thursday’s final game of the regular season took a load of pressure off the Tigers. Alex Sainterme helped alleviate some of the pressure early on aggainst SPASH. Sainterme scored 42 seconds into the game and again at 62:49 to give the Tigers breathing room.
“They worked hard the entire year during practice and in games,” Marshfield coach Ron Todryk said. “This is the hardest working group that I’ve had during my time here, and that hard work was rewarded with a conference championship.”
SPAH (4-8) had a chance to play spoiler, but couldn’t capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
“We didn’t put our shots away and they put theirs in,” SPASH coach Mark Peel said. “We had good opportunities, but couldn’t get it going. We made a few mistakes on defense and they put those opportunities away.”
First half: 1. M, Alex Sainterme, :42; 2. M Matt McCann, 24:06; 3. SP, Cristian McConald, 36:50 (pk).
Second half: 4. M, Sainterme, 62:49.
Saves: SP, Ryan Weber 5; M, Matt Brown 4. Corner kicks: SP 2; M 2. Shots on goal: SP 12; M 13.
Records: Marshfield 15-3-2, 9-2 WVC; SPASH 8-11, 4-8 WVC.