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There isn’t much separation between the Badger North Conference boys soccer teams this year.

That was evident in Baraboo on Tuesday, as the host Thunderbirds suffered a 2-1 loss to DeForest in a tightly-contested Badger North game at Flambeau Field.

The game was decided in the second half, with Baraboo (2-4-1, 0-1-1 Badger North) striking first.

After a scoreless first half, both teams were looking for a bit of a spark. Baraboo got it when DeForest was called for a handball inside the penalty box. Baraboo captain Oscar Fernandez-Hydzik took advantage. The junior midfielder stepped up to the spot and buried the penalty kick in the upper left-hand corner to give Baraboo a 1-0 lead 50 minutes, 22 seconds into the game.

DeForest (4-0-2, 2-0-0) turned up the pressure immediately, attacking Baraboo’s defensive zone. Baraboo goalie Will Gunnell held up, bouncing back to record a pair of saves after briefly going down with an injury that drew a yellow card on DeForest.

The Norskies broke through in the 70th minute, as senior captain Jacob Chambers found the back of the net to tie the game at 1-1.

DeForest continued to attack and it paid off in the 84th minute, as a Baraboo own goal gave the Norskies their first lead of the night.

DeForest goalie Austin Westra held on down the stretch to keep the Norskies atop the Badger North Conference standings. DeForest had entered the night tied with Mount Horeb, which was playing host to Reedsburg on Tuesday.

While the goals started falling in the second half, both teams had their chances in the opening 45 minutes. Baraboo had the first one, as Fernandez-Hydzik fed a through ball to Dillan Guerra to put pressure on the DeForest back line in the opening minute of the game. Freshman midfielder Oliver Scanlan also took an early shot, while Fernandez-Hydzik and Guerra connected to create another scoring chance in the 12th minute.

The Norskies weathered the early onslaught and began to tilt the field in their favor midway through the first half. The first corner of the game went DeForest’s way in the 22nd minute, while Gunnell came off his line to thwart a couple of first-half scoring chances.

The defensive efforts eventually led the teams to go to halftime knotted in a scoreless tie, setting up the back-and-forth second half.

The T-Birds will visit Watertown on Thursday for a non-conference game before returning to Badger North action at Beaver Dam on Tuesday.

DeForest 0 2 — 2

Baraboo 0 1 — 1

Second half: B — Fernandez-Hydzik, 50:22, pk. D — Chambers, 70th; own, 75th.

Follow Brock Fritz on Twitter @BrockFritz

Capital Newspapers Regional Sports Reporter