4/9/2014 2:33:00 PM Soccer players shovel to speed melt Warriors will open season Friday night
It's shovels first for the Rice Lake Warriors girls' soccer team this week as they prepare for Friday night's home opener on Pug Lund Field. With this week's spring weather, it's hoped that the artificial turf of Pug Lund Field will be clear of snow for Friday's game against visiting Superior. To help accelerate the snow melt, soccer players took shovels to the field Tuesday night to remove as much snow as possible. Up to 4 inches remained on the turf as of Tuesday morning, said Warriors coach Mike Shomion. "Everything is a go for Friday night and Saturday," said Shomion. Saturday's action is a three-team round robin among the Warriors, Ashland and Osceola. Rice Lake plays Osceola at 2 p.m. and Ashland at 6 p.m. In the 4 p.m. game, its Osceola vs. Ashland. Eleven players return for the Warriors from last year's squad that went 16-7-1 overall, including a school-best 7-5 in the Big Rivers for third place. The Warriors have key returnees on defense in junior goaltender Hannah Arrigoni and senior defenders Bailey Kleven, Allison Walsh and Megan Walsh. On offense, the top returnees are senior forward Hannah Schweitzer and junior midfielder Emma Nielsen. Arrigoni had 11 shutouts last season while posting a 1.18 goals-against average, earning her an honorable mention on the all-Big Rivers team. Defender Megan Walsh was also an all-conference honorable mention performer. Schweitzer and Nielsen will be two of the players picking up the scoring after the Warriors graduated their top scorer from last season, Kara Komoto. Komoto scored 29 goals and finished her career as Rice Lake's all-time leading scorer. Other key losses offensively from last season are midfielder Jessie Byrnes, third leading scorer with six goals and six assists, and Shelby Golden. "We're hoping we can spread the offense around this season. I think we have about five players who can score 10 to 12 goals each," said Shomion. Those players start with Schweitzer, who posted seven goals and six assists as a junior. Nielsen had five goals and three assists last season. Other letterwinners returning are senior midfielder Kendra Cutsforth and Kristie Sommerfeld, senior midfielder/forward Rachel Heinecke, junior midfielder Jennifer Terrell and junior midfielder/forward Lauren Shomion. There are eight seniors on the roster, including forward Susan Haack. Team captains are seniors Schweitzer, Sommerfeld and Megan Walsh. "With strong goaltending and an experienced back line on defense, we feel we can play with anyone on any given day," said Shomion. The conference season begins Tuesday when the Warriors are scheduled to visit River Falls. Shomion sees River Falls and Eau Claire Memorial as two of the top teams in the Big Rivers this season. Rice Lake went 2-1 in the Division 2 playoffs last season, defeating Somerset and Hayward before losing to Ashland, 2-0, in the sectional semifinals.