McFarland boys soccer fans have known all season about brothers Ethan and Zach Nichols and their talents for getting the ball in the net. The two got to show their stuff on a frigid Thursday night in the WIAA Division 3 state semifinal game, and they didn’t disappoint the hundreds of Spartan supporters who made the trip to the Uihlein Soccer Park in Milwaukee.
Both Nichols had two goals, and Zach came up with an assist as McFarland advanced to the Saturday afternoon state title game with a 7-2 win over Rice Lake.
“They do so many things you can’t teach,” head coach Brett Ogorzalek said about the Nichols duo. “Their soccer IQ is off the charts. They are unselfish players. I can’t say enough good things about those kids.”
The game temperature was 23 degrees with an 11-mile per hour wind as supporters from both schools bundled up in heavy clothing and drank an abundance of hot chocolate.
The Warriors, which shutout 11 opponents during the season, was scored upon less than 10 minutes into the game as Ethan Nichols collected a loose ball near the goal mouth and fired a shot past Warriors’ goalie Zach Holmstrom. In the 35th minute, Ethan Nichols came through with his second goal as he punched in a shot 10 yards from the right side off an assist from Zach Nichols.
Leading 2-0 at the half, McFarland put the game away with four goals in the first 30 minutes of the second half. Zach Nichols tallied in the 48th minute off an assist from Vince Seils, Jake Sampson scored on a 25-yard kick and Zach Nichols notched his second goal in the 68th minute on a 15-yard shot from the left of the goal to McFarland a 5-0 cushion.
After that, head coach Brett Ogorzalek put his second stringers on the field, and Grant Newcomer came through with a goal off his own rebound that was deflected by Holmstrom to put the Spartans on top 6-0 in the 75th minute.
Rice Lake’s Louis Larson finally put his team on the board in the 83rd minute as he collected a loose ball off a corner kick and put a shot past McFarland’s keeper Austin Miller.
Parker Bowman added the Warriors’ second goal off an assist from Ben Kemp in the 87th minute before McFarland’s Jack Bartzen beat Holmstrom with an 8-yard shot off Bryce Flemming’s assist two minutes later.
McFarland outshot Rice Lake 21-5 as starting goalie Matt Schutt made two saves. Holmstrom made six saves for the Warriors.
Ogorzalek said his team came out with a lot of energy although it had trouble with some of its touches.
“We were struggling because the surface was pretty slick, it’s old and worn down and played very fast. Our guys were having trouble controlling the ball,” Ogorzalek said.
Rice Lake, which ended its season with a 17-5-1 record, will lose nine seniors to graduation.
McFarland plays Shorewood, which defeated Seymour 2-1 in Thursday night’s other Division 3 semifinal match. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.