Premier League Update: Match Week 15/16

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Match Week 15/16 is officially in the books.  Not quite the full Match Weeks these days as the Premier League is now getting busy with mid week games for awhile.  As we get closer to Christmas it will be pretty intense, 2 games per week, plus Champions League and Europa League and the the craziness of the 40 games in 14 days that is the Holiday break.  If you enjoy top flight soccer, get your DVR ready from December 22 – January 4th.  And then there is Boxing Day…the day after Christmas for you Yankees.  We love our American football tradition on Thanksgiving but the Brits love their “football” on Boxing Day.  10 games from early to late.  We get treated to three games here in the states.  If you love the game the next month is really a great time to be a fan.

Match Week 15 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in Manchester between Arsenal and Manchester United…a clash of #4 and #7 in the table. It was really a battle of which team would win and be a contender and which would maybe fall away and be a pretender to a Top 4 claim.  A back and forth affair with both teams responding well to adversity.  As fate would have it, not sure we got any answers from this one.

Let’s check out some highlights.

In other games the winners were:

Bournemouth, West Ham, Brighton, Manchester City, Wolverhampton with a shock win over Chelsea, and Liverpool.

Match Week 16 Recap

The weekend games produced some interesting results.  The game of the weekend was #1 Manchester City vs. #4 Chelsea.  Chelsea coming off a very disappointing loss mid week to Wolverhampton.  After leading 1-0 and dominating the game, they just lost their control of the game and had a mental let down alowing two late Wolves goals to lose 2-1.  A bad loss for a Top 4 team.  Manchester City rolled on with another dominating performance 2-1 over Watford.  The game was critical for Chelsea.  Another loss and that would be two in a row and likely dropping out of the Top 4 and at risk to extending their mini slump.  Manchester City had not lost in the Premier League in 22 games.  Unstoppable was the claim.  Chelsea coach Sarri had never beaten Pep Guardiola and everyone seemed resigned that Manchester City would roll again.  As a Chelsea fan, I was worried for sure.

Let’s check out the highlights.

For a Chelsea fan the game was awesome.  We absorbed the pressure from Man City and kept their big guns pretty quiet.  Only 4 shots on goal the first half and nothing too dangerous. We started to come into the game mid way through the half and had some nice possession till half.  The scoring sequence was classic counter attack.  Playing out of the back and under pressure, David Luiz hits an incredible long cross field pass to Pedro.  50+ yards right onto his foot.  Pedro attacks and finds Willian with another cross field pass.  From there the ball finds its way to Hazard who drops a great pass across the box and …boom.  Kante with a screamer for 1-0 at the break. Chelsea has a strong start to the second half and almost gets a second early in the period but then later in the half a corner kick breaks it open for a comfortable 2-0 win.  Appropriate it is Luiz and Hazard as they both played well all game.

Other winners on the weekend include:

Liverpool 4-0 over Bournemouth.  Liverpool now lead the premier League!! Burnley 1-0 over Brighton.  Manchester United with their most complete game of the year and a 4-1 win over last place Fulham.  Arsenal 1-0 over Huddersfield, Cardiff City 1-0 over Southampton, West Ham 3-2 over Crystal Palace.  Tottenham keeps rolling with a 2-0 win over Leicester City and Wolverhampton makes it two in a row with a 2-1 win over 10 man Newcastle.

Race for the Title & Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie Liverpool 

1-Liverpool 13-0-3  42 Points

2-Manchester City   13-1-2   41 Points

3-Tottenham  12-4-0   36 Points

4-Chelsea      10-2-4   34 Points

5-Aresnal     10-2-4   34 Points

6-Manchester City  7-4-5   26 Points

Everton, Bournemouth, Leicester City and Wolverhampton round out the Top 10.  Everton could replace Man United if they win tomorrow.  The first time in a month that Manchester City has not led the race. There was a sense they may run away with it again this year, but after the loss to Chelsea, there is a new feeling, the race is on.  Liverpool is for real.  Might be a two horse race, but at least that is a race!!

Relegation Zone

There are now 6 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Newcastle United (13), Crystal Palace (12), and Burnley (12) currently safe but sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Huddersfield 2-10-4   10 Points

19. Southampton 1-9-6  9 Points

20.  Fulham 2-11-3   9 Points

Match Week 17 Preview

Game of the Week.

#6 Manchester United vs. #1 Liverpool.  This a a huge game for both teams.  Liverpool now leading the Premier League.  Manchester United with their best performance of the year this week.  A clash of two of the biggest names in soccer.  An emotional fan base on both sides.  Can Manchester U revive their season and threaten a Top 4.  Can Mourinjo give a master class coaching performance.  Can Klopp smash Jose and tell the world, we are in this to win this! It should be very interesting.

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Premier League Update: Match Week 14

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Match Week 14 is officially in the books.  It was an exciting weekend of games with two big London Derbies and the Merseyside Derby as well.  Traditional rivalry games with lots of emotion.  And one of the craziest and most unbelievable finishes I have ever seen….no really….I am not kidding.  If you did not see the end of the Liverpool vs. Everton game, check it out below.  It was a stunner.

Match Week 14 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in London between Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur…a clash of #3 and #5 in the table.  It was an interesting match up.  Tottenham coming off a huge win last week against Chelsea.  A very talented team who has been on the verge of being a championship club but just can’t quite get there.  Huge wins followed by confusing losses.  Arsenal in their first year with new coach Unai Emery, trying to rebuild themselves into a Top 4 club.  Lots of history and great tradition, but has not been a contender for the Premier League title since 2004/2005.

Let’s check out some highlights.

Arsenal is starting to believe, watch out for them the rest of the way. A real statement win for Arsenal.

The other amazing game this weekend was Liverpool vs. Everton.  Liverpool in 2nd in the table and needing to stay close to put some kind of pressure on Manchester City, try to not let them run away with the title again.  Everton having one of their better starts to a premier league season and winners of 5 of their last 6.  Could Everton make a big statement and take down Liverpool.  Could Liverpool continue to keep pace with Man City.

Make sure to watch till the end, it will be worth it.

I mentioned it at the top, but I don’t think I have ever seen anything like that goal.  Not sure what the Everton GK was thinking.  Seemed a pretty easy decision to just pop it back out of play.  Maybe he was worried about a corner kick??  Or better yet, why touch it at all, it was over the post, would have either hit the netting or the back side of the cross-bar and ricochet out of play.  But to try and catch it?  Pickford actually keeps the ball in play and with his touch causes the ball to pop straight up and hit the cross-bar a second time….never seen that.  And to top off the craziness, there is Origi, right in front of net to header/shoulder it into the net with just seconds remaining before the whistle.  A stunner for Liverpool and a crushing blow to Everton.  A cruel ending and not deserved.  A draw was a fair result.  When you add the Everton header earlier in the game that was somehow kicked off the line as it was going across, wow! Tough, tough loss for Everton.

In other games the winners were:

West Ham 3-0 over Newcastle United.

Brighton 2-1 win over Huddersfield..

Chelsea with a nice solid win over Fulham, 2-0.

Cardiff City with a big win over Wolverhampton 2-1..

Manchester City with a 3-1 win over Bournemouth.

Leicester City with a 2-0 win over Watford.

Crystal Palace wins 2-0 over Burnley.

Only 1 draw this week, but it was significant. 18th place Southampton went up 2-0 and held on for a 2-2 draw against #7 Manchester United who dropped more points.  Man U is danger of missing out on European football next year, Europa League or Champions League.

Manchester City still look unstoppable.  They are still crushing everybody.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie

1. Manchester City  12-0-2  38 Points

2. Liverpool    11-0-3   36 Points

3. Chelsea    9-1-4   31 Points

4. Arsenal      9-2-3   30 Points

5. Tottenham   10-4-0   30 Points

6. Everton 6-4-4   22 Points

Manchester United, Leicester City, Bournemouth, and Watford round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

There are now 7 teams within 3 points of the 18th position and fighting to stay up.  Crystal Palace and Cardiff City both with wins and a critical 3 points.  Crystal Palace now at 12, Newcastle United at 12, Cardiff City at 11 and Huddersfield with 10 points sitting just outside the relegation zone.  The new bottom three:

18. Southampton 1-7-6   9 Points

19. Burnley 2-9-3  9 Points

20.  Fulham 2-10-2   8 Points

There are now 3 distinct groups in the table. The Top 5 teams are all at 30 points or higher and starting to separate themselves from the pack.  The mid table teams range from 15-22 points and are ranked from 6th to 13th in the table.  The bottom group, fighting to stay up, range from 8-12 points and rank 14th to 20th.

Match Week 15 Preview

Game of the Week.

#7 Manchester United vs. #4 Arsenal.  This a a huge game for both teams.  Arsenal coming off the huge win against Tottenham and now go right back into a big match against Manchester United.  Back to back huge games.  Emotional games.  Statement games.  It would really put the league on notice that Arsenal is back.  Manchester United needs a big win.  They have struggled all year but are hanging around in 7th.  This could catapult them up the standings or signify they are mid table this year.  A month ago we all thought Mourinjo was just days away from being fired….he survived.  A bad draw against Southampton and then a loss to revitalized Arsenal might put him back on the watch list.  It should be very interesting.

 

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Premier League Match Week 13 Recap

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Match Week 13 is in the books and we are now officially 1/3 of the way thru the season.  Things are taking shape.  Teams are now established in their spots in the table and coaches are wondering if they need to make some January transfers to improve their team.  Top teams are playing in Champions League or Europa League and we are about to continue with FA Cup and EFL tournament.  Things are getting busy.

Match Week 13 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in London between Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur…a clash of #3 and #4 in the table.  A home game for Tottenham who were in form after 4 wins in a row.  Chelsea were undefeated in the Premier League but had struggled to multiple draws recently so looked vulnerable.  I hate to say it as a Chelsea fan, but Tottenham were clearly the better team in this match up, ugh.   They pressed Chelsea, played with more energy and really put their defense under an assault early.  A very bad call on what seemed an obvious PK did not go Chelsea’s way and before the first half hour, this game was out of control.  I think Chelsea needed the wake up call.

Let’s check out some highlights.

Why did Tottenham choose to play their best game of the year against Chelsea.  Bummer .  But I must say, a well deserved win for the Hotspur.  Love that nickname.  Tottenham has the talent to be a Top 4 and Title contender.  Chelsea was exposed a bit, so now their season really starts.  How will they respond? Can Tottenham keep this form longer?

In other games the winners were:

Newcastle United 2-1 over Burnley as they continue to climb up the table from 20th a  few weeks back to 13th now.

Liverpool 3-0 win over Brighton.

Fulham with a critical win, 3-2 over Southampton.

Everton with a 1-0 win over Cardiff City.

Arsenal win a 2-1 win over Bournemouth.

Huddersfield with a big win over Woverhampton, 2-0.

Manchester City, now starting to show they are the class of the league, with a 4-0 win over West Ham.

Manchester City look unstoppable.  They are crushing everybody.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Loss-Tie

1. Manchester City  11-0-2  35 Points

2. Liverpool    10-0-3   33 Points

3. Tottenham   10-3-0   30 Points

4. Chelsea    8-1-4   28 Points

5. Arsenal      8-2-3   27 Points

6. Everton 6-3-4   22 Points

Manchester United, Bournemouth, Watford and Leicester City round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

With Fulham winning , there are now 6 teams within 3 points of the 20th position and fighting to stay up.  Huddersfield with another big win to get to 10 points, Crystal Palace with 9 and Burnley with 9 are just outside the relegation zone. The new bottom three:

18. Southampton 1-7-5   8 Points

19. Cardiff City 2-9-2  8 Points

20.  Fulham 2-9-2   8 Points

As per normal, the Relegation Zone is a much closer battle that the Premier League title race!

Match Week 14 Preview

Game of the Week.

Two big games this week on Sunday.

#3 Tottenham vs. #5 Arsenal.  This is another big London Derby.  Is Tottenham for real?  Can Arsenal challenge for the Top 4?

#2 Liverpool vs. #6 Everton.  Everton has been on a nice run and has not been this high in the table for a few years.  Can they make a serious challenge for the Top 4?

Back to back on Sunday…check it out!!

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Premier League Update: Match Week 12

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

Week 12 is in the books and we are currently on a little break for International Play so the perfect time to regroup and see where things stand right now.

Match Week 12 Recap

The feature match this week was the clash in Manchester between Manchester City and Manchester United.  Manchester City is starting to create a little separation in the points and standings.  United is trying to hang onto the Top 6 but struggling to find their top form. Throw out the records when these two teams clash, but you can’t throw out the quality of players in the Man City squad.  They have the best players and best coach right now so that makes it tough on the rest of the league.

Let’s check out some highlights.

Pretty telling when during a 3 minute highlight package there is only one small moment dedicated to Manchester United, the PK.  Manchester City dominated the game, dominated possession, dominated shots on goal and the score , 3-1, reflects the huge gap between the two teams.  Pretty humbling for Jose Mourinjo and his players.  They do not feel even close to Man City right now.

In other games the winners were:

Newcastle United 2-1 over Bournemouth

Cardiff City with a 2-1 win over Brighton

Tottenham with a 1-0 win over Crystal Palace.

Liverpool with a 2-0 win over Fulham.

Interesting Note: 5 games ended with draws this week. 50% of the games.  As we have said many times, it is a very difficult league and the quality of the teams and games are very close, no matter the standings.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Tie-Loss

1. Manchester City  10-2-0  32 Points

2. Liverpool    9-3-0   30 Points

3. Chelsea    8-4-0   28 Points

4. Tottenham    9-0-3   27 Points

5. Arsenal      7-3-2   24 Points

6. Bournemouth 6-2-4   20 Points

Watford, Manchester United, , Everton and Leicester City round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

5 Teams are currently fighting to stay up, all within 3 points of the relegation zone.  Crystal Place (8 points) and Southampton (8 points) are near the danger zone in points, just outside due to Goal Differential.  Newcastle had a huge win last week to get out of the danger zone.

18. Cardiff City 2-2-8   8 Points

19. Huddersfield  1-4-7  7 Points

20.  Fulham 1-2-9   5 Points

Match Week 13 Preview

Game of the Week.

#3 Chelsea vs. #4 Tottenham Hotspur.  This is another big London Derby.  One of these two teams will stay close to the top 2 Liverpool and Manchester City while one of them will slip back into a dog fight for 4th place.  Tottenham with 3 losses already this year while Chelsea is still undefeated in League play.  This one will be intense and could be a statement game for the winner.  Top 4 clashes are special.

The best soccer in the world….check it out this weekend!

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Memorial Season Wrap Up and Other Interesting Stuff

Well, it has been a few weeks, State Champs have been crowned, shocking development….Marquette wins the State Title…. so time to wrap it up and move on from 2018.  How will the season be judged, that is a tough one.  Certainly a success based on their record, some quality wins, some very close games against really good teams….but as well, some disappointment.  A few games that got away, not quite good enough to win some big games and an early exit from the playoffs in the most painful fashion.  Maybe a season of unrealized expectations says it best.  There are high standards at Memorial.  Great program, great coaches, great history equals high expectations every year.  Advancing to the Sectional Finals is almost expected.  A trip to State every few years is the plan and trying to find that elusive State Championship.  Memorial is a program that should have a shot every year, so a little bummed with the end of the year. But maybe that is a good thing.  Success breeds expectations.  Let’s take a look at the season.

Season Notes

Record: 13-4-2

BRC: 2nd place finish to Hudson

Winning Streaks: Had winning streaks of 3, 4 and a season best 5 games.

Shut Outs: 8

Goals Scored: 57  2.85/game average

Goals Allowed: 17  .85/game average

Best Win: Madison East 2-1 and Wauwatosa East 3-0 on the same weekend.  Best 2 game stretch of the year.

Best Almost Win: Middleton 1-1.  Gave up the tying goal very late in the game.

Toughest loss: That’s an easy one.  Appleton North.  Enough said, epic for all the wrong reasons.  Runner Up: Hudson 0-1, a late goal after almost getting a game winner stings pretty hard.

Biggest Surprise: Memorial 0-North 0.  First time North was able to earn a  tie against Memorial in like 15 years.  A sign that maybe this season was not quite meant to be

Best Team Played: Oregon.  After going down 2-0 quickly, Memorial was able to steady the ship and manage the rest of the game. Oregon clearly the better team and you thought maybe could be special.  They were… they ended their season winning then D2 State Title.

Goals Recap: Mitch Brenner-21, Luke Rosenberger-10, Jared Nunez-6, Will Hartman-4, Alex Sulzer-3, Carlos Verduzco-Justin Smith-Dalton Christopherson 2 each, Jacob Peloquin-Ryder Woodworth-Tyler Hanson-Ashton Johnson-Lucas Zumwalt-Scott Knowlton all with 1 each.  Maybe missed a goal or two, but I think this is pretty close.

Goals by Class: Seniors 54%, Juniors 30%, Sophomores 5%, Freshman 11%

Good News: 46% of the goals return with Rosenberger and Nunez combining for 16 goals.

Bad News: Brenner had 37% of the goals, that’s a lot of goals to replace.

2019 Season Preview

So lets take a quick look at what is returning in 2019 and how the team is taking shape.

Attacking: The loss of Brenner will hurt.  He was a dynamic scoring threat and had 37% of the goals.  Who will step into that role.  In the Forward spot there is no obvious choice.  Peloquin has played there, but his scoring dipped in 2018 and he played more on the wing late in the season.  This will be a developing story…who will step into this important role in the 9 spot.

Wing Play: Some better options here.  It feels like Hartman and Smith are ready and able to take on these spots.  Scoring ability, crossing ability and good team play make them dangerous out wide.

Midfield: Memorial will be dynamic in this area.  Returning Rosenberger, Nunez and Woodworth makes this maybe an All Conference Midfield, except for that darn Kolton Prater at Hudson and maybe Lushi Xiong at North.  A bunch of goals may need to come from midfield pending the development of a high scoring striker.  All three are capable and dominating midfield may be the key to next years team.

Back Four: Another area of strength.  Returning 3 starters along with All Conference player Logan Junker will make the back four tough to beat.  Throw in Matt Gyorfi, a healthy Ryan Biwer and fill in that 4th spot with a developing Sophomore or experienced Senior and you have a nice situation on the back line.

GK: Hard to replace a 3 year starter and Co-Conference Player of the Year.  Scott Knowlton likely assumes the spot and he will have big shoes to fill.  A strong back 4 and dynamic midfield will need to protect him a bit as he grows into the role.  Tyler covered up a bunch of defensive hiccups with his GK play and sweeper keeper mentality.  A stronger, more experienced defensive group will certainly help the new keeper.

Reserves: Memorial loses 10 Seniors and will need the next wave to step up to fill important roles on the team.  The JV squad was dominant all year, so who will step in to take those open spots.  Can we find enough scoring , midfield play and defense to round out the team.  Can we find that chemistry to build around.  Can we make a deep run and get back on top of the BRC.  Hudson had it a year, time to take it back!  Go Abes!

BIG Rivers All Conference Teams

1st Team

Memorial: Mitch Brenner (12), Luke Rosenberger (11), Logan Junker (11), Tyler Hanson (12)

Hudson: Kolton Prater (11), Luke Johnson (12), Cole Ober (11)

North: Logan Podolak (12), Lushi Xiong (11)

River Falls: Niko Zoller (12)

Rice Lake: Cole Schnoor (11)

Co-BRC Players of the Year: Kolton Prater and Tyler Hanson

2nd Team

Rice Lake: Logan Severson (12), Ben Kemp (11), Zach Holmstrom (10)

Menomonie: Adam Wilson (12), James Schemenauer (12)

Hudson: Corey Denning (12), Nick Thompson (11)

Memorial: Jared Nunez (9), Simon Larson (12)

River Falls: Connor Weinzurl (12)

North: Alec Reiland (12)

Honorable Mention

Hudson: Teig O’Kelly (10), Ryan Moothedan (12), Sam Ross (10)

River Falls: Owen Wise (10), Gage Espanet (11)

Memorial: Ryder Woodworth (10), Alex Sulzer (12)

North: Keegan Dehnke (12), Ayden White (11)

Menomonie: Ilari Lahtinen (12)

Chippewa Falls: Ethan Crocker (12)

Rice Lake: Michael Birhle (12)

2019 Predictions

As a clue to the 2019 year, what can the All Conference Teams tell us. As we look a the teams, how many returning players for each team were recognized.  How much talent is returning to guide next years programs.

Let’s look at the two teams who have dominated BRC play for the past 15 years and you will see a nice core to build around.  Based on this quick unscientific analysis, Hudson has a slight advantage in players and returning the Player of the Year certainly gives them the edge going into off-season. Feels like these two will battle it out again for the title.  Can Memorial replace some lost scoring, find an ace striker and get back to the top.  Can Kolton Prater finish off his senior year with back to back POY and a BRC title.  Can’t wait!

Hudson: Returns 5 including two 1st Team players as well as the Player of the year, one from 2nd team and two HM.  Strong!

Memorial: Returns 4 players including two from 1st Team and one each from 2nd Team and HM.  Pretty strong as well.

Rice Lake: Returns 3 players, one from 1st Team.

North: Returns two players, one from 1st Team.

River Falls: Return two from HM.

So as we wrap the season, let’s leave you something fun to take with you in the off-season.  Biggest goal of the year nominee.

We will need a lot of these next year from Luke.

And a lot of these as well from Jared.

Keep in touch as we focus more on Premier League an maybe a few winter updates on EC United.  Thanks for checking us out!

 

 

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Premier League Update; Match Week 11

Premier League Fans, let’s get caught up.

We are almost thru Match Week 11, one more game to go on Monday between Huddersfield and Fulham, a Relegation Zone battle between the teams currently in the 19th and 20th positions in the table.  Likely it will be a very intense and exciting game.  The winner could earn a very valuable 3 points and get into a much better position.

Match Week 11 Recap

This week the feature match was Liverpool vs. Arsenal, featuring two teams in the Top 5.  Arsenal trying to recapture some of the teams glory years while Liverpool tries to hang close to Manchester City in a tie for the top spot in the table.  It was a game you expected a shoot out, two really powerful offenses who score goals in bunches.  So as fate would have it when you expect a shoot out, obviously, you get a very close, low scoring, but intense battle.  As well as a little controversy.

Check out the highlights.

Liverpool with so many chances to score.  Headers flying everywhere and a deserved 1-0 lead I think.  Not sure about the off sides call on the goal called off.  The players who took the shot was on sides and then the deflection off the post seems to nullify the off sides position of Mane.  Not sure, but a tough call against Liverpool.  Then a really amazing effort by Lacazette to equalize.  A really good game between to teams in top form.  A fair draw.

In other games the winners were:

Manchester United 2-1 over Bournemouth

Newcastle United 1-0 over Watford.  A big win, moving them out of the relegation zone.

Everton 3-1 win over Brighton

West Ham 4-2 win over Burnley

Leicester a 1-0 win over Cardiff City. A tough game for Leicester City following the tragic death of their well loved and respected owner.  Vichai Svrivaddhanaprabha, a billionaire from Thailand, who led the team to the miracle Premier League title a few years back, died in a helicopter crash just minutes after take off from the stadium after their previous match.  A shocking story and tough week for the Leicester City extended family.

Tottenham 3-2 over Wolverhampton

Manchester City, now leading the table with a 6-1 crushing of Southampton

Chelsea with a solid 3-1 win over Crystal Palace.

Race for the Title and Champions League Top 4

Win-Tie-Loss

1. Manchester City  9-2-0  29 Points

2. Chelsea    8-3-0   27 Points

3. Liverpool    8-3-0   27 Points

4. Tottenham    8-0-3   24 Points

5. Arsenal      7-2-2   23 Points

6. Bournemouth 6-2-3   20 Points

Manchester United, Watford, Everton and Leicester City round out the Top 10.

Relegation Zone

4 Teams are currently fighting to stay up, within 3 points of the relegation zone.  Southampton (7) and Newcastle (6) are near the danger. in points.  You can now see why the Monday game with Fulham vs. Huddersfield is so critical.  The winner adds 3 critical points.

18. Cardiff City 1-2-8   5 Points

19. Fulham 1-2-7  5 Points

20.  Huddersfield 0-3-7   3 Points

Match Week 12 Preview–almost 1/3 of the way thru the season.

Game of the Week.

#1 Manchester United vs. #7 Manchester City.  This is a big deal.  Forever, Manchester United ruled the Premier League and the city of Manchester, but this is a new day. Manchester City is the best in the league winning last year on a record for wins and points.  They are the odds on favorite again in 2018-2019.  A special team.  Can Manchester United find a way to rekindle their glory years and take down City.  Must see TV.

Chelsea vs Everton is a clash of 2 vs 9 so another game that deserves some attention.  Chelsea undefeated thru 11 games…can they keep it going.

The best soccer in the world….check it out next weekend!

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Wisconsin High School Playoffs Update; November 4

Well, another season comes to an end this weekend with the completion of the state tournament.  Let’s take a look at how things finished up for the year in each division.

Semifinals: Friday, Nov. 2
#1 Marquette  3,  #4 Sun Prairie 0
#2 Hamilton 3, #3 Green Bay Preble  0

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Marquette 
3, Hamilton  0

DIVISION 2

Semifinals: Thursday, Nov. 1
#4 New Berlin Eisenhower  1, #1 Cedarburg  0
#2 Oregon  3, #3 Holmen  2

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Oregon 3, New Berlin Eisenhower 1

DIVISION 3

Semifinals: Thursday, Nov. 1
#1 McFarland 2,  #4 Plymouth  0
#2 Pius XI Catholic 7,  #3 Baldwin-Woodville  3

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Pius XI Catholic  3, McFarland  1

DIVISION 4

Semifinals: Friday, Nov. 2
#1 University School of Milw.  4, #4 Sturgeon Bay 1
#2 Amery  3, #3 Kettle Moraine Lutheran  – 7 p.m.

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
University School of Milw.  2, Amery 1

Notes

-In the least shocking news of the weekend, Marquette defeated Homestead to win its 14th State Championship in the 19 years since the Public and Private school systems were joined together in 2000.  Yes-you heard that right-they have won 14 of the 19 state championships in Division 1.  Please see Marquette Rant in the previous post.

-The best team I saw play all year was Oregon, who played and defeated Memorial 2-0 in a non-conference game.  The were big, fast, skilled and started 11 seniors with several more seniors coming off the bench.  It is a pretty cool story.  They made the Championship game last year and lost to Whitefish Bay, but returned a ton of seniors.  To have the goal of getting back to the championship game, and to actually get there and then win it.  Wow.  What a season for Oregon.  A real feel good story for sure.

-A shout out to the soccer being played in Western Wisconsin.  Baldwin-Woodville made it to the state semi-finals and Amery made it to the state finals game in Division 3 and Division 4.  That is impressive and a great sign that teams from this area can compete against the big city boys from Milwaukee and Madison.

-If you are keeping score, maybe it is only me, but this year 3 of the 4 winners were from Private Schools.  Oregon, featuring a starting line up of all Seniors, were able to get one for the public schools.

Memorial season round-up post coming soon.

 

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Wisconsin High School Soccer Playoffs Update

So, it has been 8 days since my last post.  It happened last year as well, I just needed a good week after Memorial got beat to let my system reset and get back into the groove on the blog.  It is hard when a team you follow goes down.  It is especially hard if they go down they way Memorial did.  The title of the last blog was accurate.  It was Epic….just not the kind of epic we all wanted.  But life and soccer move on, with or without Memorial in the playoffs.  I will get some season recap blogs organized and try to wrap up the season and project a little moving forward to 2019.

Until then, let’s get caught up on the playoffs and see what has happened since Memorial got knocked out.

Division 1 Recap

Sectional 1 Results.

#1 Green Bay Preble defeats #5 Appleton North.  The game ends 0-0 and Preble wins the PK shoot out 5-3.  So the PK shoot out giveth, Appleton North defeated Memorial 10-9 is the Epic battle previously blogged about but then, the PK shoot out taketh away.  Appleton North experienced the incredible high of the epic win, quickly followed by the incredible low of losing to the #1 seed just four days later.  An emotional roller coaster for sure after their game against Memorial.  0-0 games sound bad but can be incredibly stressful to play in and watch.

#3 Hudson defeated #2 Kimberly 2-0 to advance to the Sectional Finals.

Green Bay Preble (predicted by a local up and coming soccer blogger to be the team to defeat if you wanted to make it to state) defeats Hudson 2-1 to Advance to State.  Congrats to Hudson for advancing to the Sectional Finals.  Green Bay Preble was the second best team I watched this year.  Oregon was the best team I saw.

Other teams advancing.

#2 Hamilton defeated #7 Arrowhead, #6 Homestead, and #5 Oshkost West to advance to State.  The #1 seed Neenah got knocked off by Oshkosh West.  The same Oshkosh West that lost to Madison East who we beat in our weekend Quad a month ago.  Probably the highlight of Memorials season was the two games in Milwaukee defeating Wauwatosa and Madison East.

#5 Sun Prairie knocked off #4 Middleton, #1 Verona, and #2 Kettle Moraine on their way to qualifying for State.  An impressive run. Three upsets in three days.  The conference in Madison was loaded with 3-4 Top 10 teams and obviously it prepared Sun Prairie for the playoffs and a deep run.

And in the least surprising news of the year, Marquette qualifies for State.  Winning their 4 games by a combined 30-0. No OT games.  No PK shoot outs. No epic battles, No drama.  10-0, 6-0, 8-0, 6-0.  This is a real problem in soccer in Division 1 in the State of Wisconsin.  Marquette , and other private schools should not be in the same division as the Public Schools.  No way, no how, not right, doesn’t make any sense, and why doesn’t anyone do something about it.  It is so painfully obvious.

Marquette Rant Now Officially Beginning.

For some reason the State of Wisconsin and the WIAA decided in 2000 they should combine the public and private schools championships.  Not sure then other sports, but in soccer it is not working.  Lets take a quick walk down memory lane since 2000. This will be the 19th year since they joined the groups together.  It will be Marquette’s 18th appearance in State.  Only 1 year, 2013, that Marquette did not qualify for the state tournament.  How awful would it have been to be a Senior on that team, I mean really, how embarrassing.  How about the reunion in 2023, I might skip that reunion.  How can you show your face.  A quick recap of their performance over the last 18 years of tournaments.

First Place -13 Times

Runner Up- 2 times

Semi-Finals – 2 times

Missed State Playoffs – 1 time

83% of the time , Marquette makes the State Finals.

72% of the time, Marquette wins the State Championship

95% of the time, Marquette makes the Final Four

That’s just dumb really.  I mean, the only thing worse than being in Division 1 soccer is if you were a participant in Sectional 4, where Marquette is placed. I mean, how would you even approach the season.  Okay boys, here we are, another start to our season.  Let’s set our goals this year.

-Make the Division 4 playoffs.

-Try to get placed in the opposite side of the bracket from Marquette.  Maybe even lose a game late in the season so your seeding changes and you are on the opposite side of the bracket from Marquette.

-Make it to the Sectional Finals

-Hope you don’t get beat 10-0 by Marquette in the Sectional Finals.

I mean, really, only 1 time in 19 years they have missed winning Sectional 4.  This should be fixed.  It is not right.  Why would Marquette even want to participate in the Wisconsin State tournament.  Why don’t they just opt out of it and go play a National tournament.  It is not really a competition for them.  See notes above for average winning score of 7.5- 0 in Sectionals this year.  What’s the point really.  Yeah! We won the State Tournament…..again.

Marquette Rant Officially Ending Now

Whew…that felt good.  Breathing a bit easier now.  Let’s move on from big bad Marquette.

State Semi-finals Schedule.

DIVISION 1

Semifinals: Friday, Nov. 2

Game-1:  #1 Marquette (18-1-2) vs. #4 Sun Prairie (14-5-3) – 11 a.m.
Game-2:  #2 Hamilton (15-1-3) vs. #3 Green Bay Preble (17-1-6) – 1:30 p.m.

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Winner of Game-1 vs. Winner of Game-2 – 4:30 p.m.

DIVISION 2

Semifinals: Thursday, Nov. 1
Game-1:  #1 Cedarburg (15-2-2) vs. #4 New Berlin Eisenhower (16-3-1) – 4:30 p.m.
Game-2:  #2 Oregon (18-2-2) vs. #3 Holmen (22-1-1) – 7 p.m.

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Winner of Game-1 vs. Winner of Game-2 – 1:30 p.m.

DIVISION 3

Semifinals: Thursday, Nov. 1
Game-1:  #1 McFarland (18-4) vs. #4 Plymouth (14-4-5) – 11 a.m.
Game-2:  #2 Pius XI Catholic (20-3-2) vs. #3 Baldwin-Woodville (20-0-2) – 1:30 p.m.

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Winner of Game-1 vs. Winner of Game-2 – 11 a.m.

DIVISION 4

Semifinals: Friday, Nov. 2
Game-1:  #1 University School of Milwaukee (16-2-1) vs. #4 Sturgeon Bay (16-7-1) – 4:30 p.m.
Game-2:  #2 Amery (17-0-4) vs. #3 Kettle Moraine Lutheran (15-5-3) – 7 p.m.

Championship Game: Saturday, Nov. 3
Winner of Game-1 vs. Winner of Game-2 – 7 p.m.

Local Notes:

-New Richmond beat River Falls in D2 Regional Finals but lost to Holmen in the next round.

-Rice Lake lost to Baldwin-Woodville in the Sectional Finals to make it to State.  Baldwin-Woodville has an all state player planning to play D1 College soccer and a real shot to win the it all.

-Regis had a tough draw losing in the first round to Amery who qualified for State in D4.

-Watch out for Oregon in D2.  A real chance to win State.  Best team I saw play this year.   We played them tough, losing 2-0, but they looked really good!!

-Can GB Preble make it to the State Finals.  Can Sun Prairie shock the world and take down Marquette looking for their 5th Straight State title.  Yes, you heard that right, 5th straight. That’s just dumb.  Mini-rant now over!

Planning a Premier League update in the next few days, so check back in.  Now that I have fully recovered from the Memorial loss, I will get back to regular updates.  Check back in a spread the word about West Wisconsin Soccer Talk.

Thanks for checking us out!!

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Epic! Just Not The Good Kind!

So let me first say I missed the game.  Not knowing the playoff schedule months ago, the family scheduled a trip to Madison for homecoming, a Badger game and some “Cooper time”.  The game ended up a blow out win, so that was nice.  The weather, well that was not so nice, a blizzard broke out in the first half and with the score pretty lopsided, our only goal was could we make it to “Jump Around” to start the 4th quarter.  We made it…..just barely.

But I have to also say, I had a different game on my mind.  My mind kept drifting to the Memorial playoff game starting at 1:00.   Could we get hot and make a deep run into the playoffs.  This year Memorial was not a dominant team ranked in the Top 10, but they have lots of talent, and enough senior leadership that anything is possible.

So, sitting at the Badger game, and just thinking about the Abes.  I had planned to text for updates but decided against it.  I know the emotion of the playoffs and did not want to distract any of the parents.  I have a few people who I rely on for updates but it just didn’t feel right to bug them.  And then my mind started to wander……how are they doing….I wonder what the score is…..if no one is texting me is that good….if no one is texting me is that bad….why isn’t anyone texting me!

So around 3:00, I start checking the WIAA website for updates, but there is no update.  Plenty of 1:00 games have ended and the scores are posted, but nothing on Memorial.  Starting to get anxious and start checking the site every few minutes.  Nothing.  I mention it to Kathy.  She decides to check.  After 4:00 now, so there must be a final.  My instincts are not good, feel like I would have heard if it was good news.  Kathy connects with a Memorial soccer supporter for an update.  I walk into the room as she is on he call and initially I think it’s good news, Kathy is smiling and the call seems energetic…..I get a bit excited.

But it was not meant to be, the news is not good, the energy is from the caller explaining the intensity of the game, the unbelievable finish, the craziness of two red cards, the amazing comeback from down 2 goals and down a player and a coach, the almost beat them anyway feeling, but eventually just the gut wrenching loss, the heartbreak of coming up just short.  Plenty of tears were shed I am pretty sure.  From players and parents.

A few thoughts.

-It must have been an unbelievable emotional roller coaster.  Memorial takes an early 1-0 lead at the 10 minute mark.  Emotions riding high.  Our defense has been strong all year.  Appleton responds to tie it up at 28 minutes.  Appleton takes the lead on a PK.  Frustrating when refs award PK’s in playoff games and they are almost always a bit controversial. Appleton scores in 45th minute. Really disappointed, from up 1 to down 2 in the final 17 minutes of the half.

-Frustrations likely hit their peak in the first 3 minutes of the second half.  I can only imagine.  Within the span of a few minutes you have a player sent off on a red card after picking up his second yellow.  You are down 2 goals and down to 10 players and you feel like it can’t get any worse than this, there is nothing else that can go wrong, no possible way…….but then is goes from frustration to the absurd.  The ref calls a second yellow on the bench and your head coach is red carded and is forced to leave the game.  What!   The emotional roller coaster just hit bottom.  Oh man!

-Bench Yellow’s are always interesting. Is the coach frustrated and not getting any calls.  Is a coach trying to protect his players.  Is a coach just looking to make sure the next calls go their way.  And why can’t the referee manage their way thru that…..why do they feel the need to interject themselves into the game and become the spotlight.  This game had 2 PK’s, very unusual.  2 Red cards, very unusual and a coach ejected, really very unusual.  I just don’t like a ref who has an ego or not enough confidence to absorb a little discomfort.  It’s a big game, emotions are riding high.  There are yellows and PK’s and you must expect the coaches are going to get a little animated. Red card the coach.  Amazing.

-The comeback.  So there are a few directions a game can go when the head coach is ejected.  It can go South quickly.  The team can fall apart, blame the refs, blame each other and never recover.  Or the team can use the moment to come together, find some resolve, take the red card personally and refocus and double their effort to honor their coach.  That’s what I love about Memorial soccer.  The tradition, the talent, the coaching, the support….all combine to make the Abes a program that fights.  And that’s what they did.  They score just a few minutes after the red card. 3-2 and a flicker of hope.  Their game actually improves playing down a man.  They are playing free and loose and really start to control the game.  Shots are coming.  They look dangerous.  And then at 81 minutes, it happens, a little redemption for the earlier PK and the red card, Memorial catches a break and has their own PK.  Mitch Brenner who has scored the first two goals, calmly buries the PK for a hat trick. The emotional roller coaster is racing down the steep hill and your hands are in the air and you are screaming.  Oh my.  3-3 and 9 minutes to go.  Fans and parents are fully drained at this point.  Emotions are zapped.  The nerves are shot. You have nothing left to give.

-9 more minutes and 2 overtime’s of sit on the edge of your seat, a goal ends this game emotion.  Memorial has chances to end it.  But a game like this can really only end one way, a PK shootout.  And not your run of the mill, exciting, everyday type shootout, no, this game needed something more.  It needed the longest PK shootout likely in Memorial soccer history,  not sure there are any stats on this one, but coach Eric Wirth mentioned he never remembered one longer and he has been a player or coach since the early 2000’s.  I don’t either.  12 deep.  That is just crazy.  Not sure if Memorial had chances to win at any point.  I know from the paper that there were a few moments where they might lose on the next kick.  Emotions drained but likely the nerves were tingling, anxiety everywhere.  Hold your breath and pray anxiety. You feel like you just watched 10 scary movies.

-I wish I had the PK recap….it finished at 10-9 in the 12th round.  I am not sure what happens after everyone on the field shoots.  Did Memorial have players start taking their second PK of the shootout?  I don’t know that rule.  Never thought I would need to know that rule. But eventually it has to end.  PK endings are cruel.  12 round PK endings are brutal.  I just can’t imagine at the end even being able to breathe or stand up.  Parents must have been completely drained.  Can you imagine being the parent of a GK.  It takes a special person. No way.  I love Tyler Hanson and would not want anyone else in goal for my team.  The pressure on shooters is immense.  Can you imagine stepping up to take the kick in the 10th-11th-or 12th round of the shootout.  My legs would not have worked, but these kids just do it. Amazing!

-And then it is over.  Appleton celebrating an epic victory.  Memorial players collapsing and devastated, Memorial parents likely just sad.  They are hurting for their kids.  It is just so final for the seniors and parents of seniors.  It’s over.  No more games.  I remember last year at state and just feeling empty for awhile.  But as well, feeling really proud.  I hope that is the lasting feeling.  Being really proud that the boys were able to overcome a really strange game, fight back to tie and battle to the end. Epic for sure. Just not the good kind!

I wish I could hug every player and say Thanks.  Thanks for all your hard work and representing Memorial soccer.  You are part of the family .  My lasting memory from last year and it fits pretty well for this year.  No words, just a hug!

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2018 Regionals: Memorial Edges Past North

Updated Post

Some Notes on the Game:

-I wasn’t sure how the final shot tally would look, but I knew it would be a big difference.  I was guessing around 20-5 in shots and that was pretty close in Memorials favor.  I could not remember a shot on goal in the second half for North.  A few long free kicks which can be dangerous, but Memorial really locked down the game in the second half.

-The goal with 4 seconds to go in the half by North was a gut punch and could have been a huge momentum swing.  Coming out for the second half, North was loud.  I am guessing full of confidence and ready for the upset.  Memorial never let them get going.  The shots started coming in the first few minutes and never stopped the entire half.  I think around 15 shots in the second half.  That’s a bunch.

-In the 2nd game of the season, the North Midfield really played well.  They created a ton of counter attack opportunities and moved the ball into space consistently.  Not on Tuesday.  Memorial seemed aware of this and kept the potent duo of Podolak and Xiong under control all night.

-Unsung hero: Ryder Woodworth.  Part of the reason Podolak and Xiong were not as dangerous was Woodworth.  His tracking and midfield play helped stabilize things for the Abes.  As well, I must point out that on the winning goal, Ryder had two key moments.  He wins a ball in Midfield early in the possession and makes a nice over the head kick into the Memorial half.  Almost instantly, North wins back the ball, but Ryder makes a great tackle in Midfield and wins the ball back.  His two midfield wins allow Rosenberger the chance to  make the run into the box, and Peloquin to make the pass into the middle so that Zumwalt can header it home.  It never happens without the midfield play from Woodworth.

Next Game Appleton North

-Appleton North has a solid program and some success in the state tournament back in 2010, getting too the state finals.  The record this year , from what I can find, was 13-4.  Nice win over Arrowhead was the best win I found.  A close loss to Kimberly who is ranked second in our Sectional.  Neenah, ranked in the Top 10 in the state beat them as well.

-One common opponent this year is Middleton.  Memorial tied them 1-1 and Middleton beat Appleton North.  From the games I see and the common opponent, the #5 seeding makes sense.  Memorial on paper is the slight favorite and playing at home makes for a nice advantage as well.  If they both play their best, Memorial should find a way….but as they say….that’s why they play the games.  Go Abes!!

Original Post

Maybe this Rivalry is real.  Another hotly contested game that went to the half tied at 1.  Memorial took control in the second half, controlled possession, dominated in shots all night, and found a game winner.

Lots more to add tomorrow. but I wanted to drop these couple of videos out there tonight for everyone’s viewing pleasure.  A certain someone will enjoy them….starts with an M….ends with chelle….she had a really big smile on her face as the game ended.  Nice!  I love it when good things happen to players who work really hard,  are humble and are great teammates.  I have mentioned several times on the blogs this year that Lucas was due for a big goal.  He had been close many times this year, but it just didn’t happen.  Well, it happened tonight.

Here is a little foreshadowing of the goal later.

And then a crushing blow when North scores with 4 seconds to go in the half.   Nice goal, but tough to give that one up on a set play.

But then this happened.

I will be back tomorrow for some game evaluation, updates on other games and a preview of the Regional Finals on Saturday.

Go Abes.  Shock the World!

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