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June 21, 2018

10/6/2017 7:28:00 AM
Thunderbirds and lightning
Boh scores two in Lakeland's weather-shortened win over Medford
Matt Frey/star news

Brandon Boh (12) battles for a ball with a Medford defender during a Great Northern Conference match on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Stetsonville Elementary School. Boh scored two goals in Lakeland’s 3-1 win.
Matt Frey/star news

Brandon Boh (12) battles for a ball with a Medford defender during a Great Northern Conference match on Tuesday, Oct. 3, at Stetsonville Elementary School. Boh scored two goals in Lakeland’s 3-1 win.

Nick Sabato
River News reporter

The last time Lakeland Union High School battled Medford on the soccer pitch it was during a dreadful period at the beginning of the season when the Thunderbirds were muddling through a rash of injuries.

As a result, Medford won that match a month ago, by a slim 2-1 margin.

On Tuesday, the two teams played once again and the only mud was created by a downpour that resulted in a 30-minute lightning delay. That delay caused the game to end 20 minutes early due to darkness, but when it ended, Lakeland was victorious, 3-1.

"We had a really good first half hour, there was a weather delay for 30 minutes and we were not as dominant as the first 30 minutes," LUHS head coach Jim Mullen said. "We missed several really good opportunities that could have put the game away early. Medford - give them credit - they kept battling back. They kind of got an awkward angle goal over the top of Mason (Holmquist) in the first half. They came out and played really hard in the second half and Mason had to come up with a couple of great big saves."

Brandon Boh was the man of the match for Lakeland, scoring the first two markers of the game and giving his team an early 2-0 lead in the first 20 minutes.

Boh has picked up his play in recent weeks, becoming a consistent scoring threat for the T-Birds, in part due to a position change.

"We've been trying to get him upfield more because he's more consistent with striking the ball than anybody else other than Kieran (Mullen)," Jim Mullen said. "So we've been trying to maximize that. If we had put more of those away earlier in the season we'd be having a different conversation, but we're finding some more opportunities."

Kieran Mullen scored the lone goal in the second half, just before the game was called with just shy of 20 minutes left on the clock.

Lakeland played a much more aggressive game offensively than in the loss back on Sept. 7, partly due to Kieran Mullen returning from injury.

That seemed to make the difference, as the T-Birds outshot the Raiders, 11-3, in the game.

"I changed the lineup a little bit to put four more attacking people that can possess the ball and potentially score up front," coach Mullen said. "This time we had people with more experience with chances of making something happen."

Another big difference in this match was the play of the Lakeland outside defensive backs.

Brendan McMahon and Ryan May have both come on in recent weeks and that was evident in this game.

"Our wingbacks played much better tonight than the first time against Medford, particularly Brendan and Ryan," Jim Mullen said. "They were getting rid of balls earlier unless they didn't have a good, obvious open pass. Ryan actually had a couple good crosses. Medford likes to push their back line up and he had a couple nice diagonal balls that we got a couple good opportunities off of. Brendan was finding some shorter passes, connecting with the rest of the midfield up the line and I think that helped us a lot in some of our transition play. That was really nice to see."

Not only was Lakeland able to pick up another win, but it was able to do so by saving 20 minutes of play.

With matches on Thursday and Friday, including a trip to Iron Mountain, saving any amount of energy is crucial, particularly since the T-Birds have aspirations of winning the remainder of their five regular season games.

"We'd like to run the table," Mullen said. "I see no reason why we can't. It gives us a better position for seeding. The meeting is (next) Wednesday, but we play Mosinee before that. We'll do what we need to do."

Lakeland (5-10-2, 3-5 GNC) played at Iron Mountain on Thursday after press time and is back on the field again tonight with a match against Washburn. The start time is 5 p.m. at River Valley Bank Field.

Nick Sabato may be reached at nick@lakelandtimes.com or via Twitter @SabatoNick.

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