Ponzio Stadium on the campus of Northland College was the neutral site used in both games between the Ashland Oredockers and Washburn/Bayfield soccer teams. Though Ashland, a perennial power in WIAA D3, won both games, those were the only two losses the upstart WIAA D4 Washburn/Bayfield program has suffered this season. (Contributed photo by Kevin Scott)

The Ashland Oredockers girls soccer team, long a Wisconsin powerhouse in WIAA Division 3 and a team that fell one goal short of making the state championship in 2021, has maintained its winning ways this season after securing the Heart O’ North Conference championship at home with a 4-0 conference win over once-beaten Washburn/Bayfield co-op, the only team with a real shot to block the ‘Dockers path to the title in its first year in the HON. For the Bay-Area foes whose players often compete with each other on local club squads — and whose teams were decidedly the best in the HON in 2022— the rivalry has special meaning according to AHS coach Jonny BeBeau.

“Two quality high school programs that stem from the same local club program is the best thing for the future of soccer in the Bay-Area,” BeBeau said. “It helps to grow the soccer culture and to be back in the same conference as them is nice. Our teams are used to traveling really far for soccer games, and sharing a conference means that we are each guaranteed two quality games close to home. (Washburn/Bayfield coach) Lee Dennis is doing a great job with that program, and I expect them to continue to get stronger and stronger.”

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