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WPASL Recap: Boats Best Traditional Rivals, Keep Pace In WPASL Title Race


Two players battle for possession of the ball.
Bateaux's Elliott Solberg attempts to take on Superior's Kaden Bergman. Photo by Christina Gordon.

EAU CLAIRE, Wisconsin - The Bateaux FC WPASL team were comfortable winners Sunday in the Connect Four Derby over Superior Wolfpack FC, defending UW-Eau Claire’s Bollinger Field in a 4-0 win.


“Our midfield played well and kept us connected throughout the match,” Bateaux captain Cade Klusendorf said. “The guys were able to link up nicely from defense to midfield to attack.”


Klusendorf, a center back from Crystal Lake, Illinois, led a back line that gave up few opportunities on a rainy afternoon in Western Wisconsin. Despite significant rain throughout the contest, the defensive unit stayed solid and kept Superior quiet for 90 minutes, something they were unable to do in both WPASL meetings last year.


The scoring opened in the 25th minute, as David Ripplinger took a throw-in on the left side of attack. His two-touch turn led to a pass across the box found Ben Zumwalt’s run into the box. Zumwalt fired with a single touch and found the bottom left corner, giving Bateaux an early edge.


Bateaux players celebrate a goal.
The team celebrates after Ben Zumwalt's (left) opener against Superior. Photo by Christina Gordon.

Before the halftime whistle, the home side scored again. Ripplinger was involved for a second time, finishing a chance from a deep corner kick to score his 49th career goal with the club.


Refusing to rest on their laurels, Bateaux continued to pile pressure on their opponents early in the second half despite a 2-0 lead. Hard work and persistence paid off just short of the hour mark as Ripplinger would grab goal number 50 for the club. Ripplinger was played through by Hugo Hernandez Sandoval, who wisely thought better of a pass to an offside John Wilke and slipped Ripplinger in between two defenders instead. A 1-on-1 situation yielded the historic goal for Bateaux’s top goalscorer in club history.


The Boats would grab one more insurance goal through Mason Sherman, who was denied via the crossbar and a clever save in the 75th minute, but scored on the ensuing corner thanks to Elliott Solberg’s aerial ball in from the far side.


Superior’s Kaden Bergman received a second yellow card for dissent in the 80th minute, marking the final notable event of the match.


“I would say it was a fantastic win to start off the Connect Four Derby,” midfielder Dalton Hoepner said. “[It] felt great to bounce back from last year’s home loss.”


The 6-0 result against Wolfpack marked the most lopsided result for either side in the rivalry’s history and was the most recent contest between the two.


With the sweeter taste in the Boats’ mouths comes their fourth win in five during the 2023 season, matching the four-win, one-draw record of in-city opponent Union Eau Claire FC. Union currently holds the lead in the league table on goal difference with a 16 to 11 advantage.


“Superior came looking to play aggressively but I felt we matched it and pushed them back well early on,” head coach Josh Ranft said. “The goals we scored were good team goals… couldn’t have asked for anything more from the guys.”


Previously based in Hayward, Wolfpack continue an uncharacteristically slow start to 2023. They slip to a 1-3-1 record, good for a fourth-best four points from five matches.


Next on the WPASL slate for Bateaux is a two-match weekend, beginning with an away match against 2022 runners-up Lobos FC Saturday and an Eau Claire Derby fixture with league leaders Union Eau Claire Sunday.

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