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Big shoes filled well by DL team

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It's always hard to start from square one after a historic season, but that's what the Detroit Lakes boys' soccer team was looking at after losing the bulk of their scoring and defense from a year ago.

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The proverbial "big shoes to fill" adage was used more than once, but after an 8-9-1 record, the season wasn't a rebuilding process, at all.

"Yes, we had to start from the ground up to start the season, but we didn't suffer through a season where we had to bottom out," said DL head coach Justin Wegleitner. "We might have fallen to the midpoint, but not below that and that's nice to see where our program is."

The Lakers took a few bumps along the way, no doubt, but the resilient bunch plodded along and pushed Bemidji to the limits in the second round of the Section 8-1A playoffs, before losing 1-0 on a controversial call by the officials.

"These guys never backed down, they never gave up," Wegleitner said. "After losing by the scores of 4-1 and 3-1 to Bemidji during the season, we took it to them in the playoffs. We had a tough penalty call on us, but it really was good to see our guys step up and played the way they did."

The Lakers also ripped the playoff monkey off their back after pummeling Crookston 4-0 in the first round. DL topped the Pirates three times through the season, a nice sentiment to the season against one of their biggest rivals.

Defensively, the Lakers had to restructure with new players, but senior Martin Lanning returned as a seasoned defender, with junior Nate Friesen, sophomores Christian Tigges and Chris Larson each pulling their weight.

The goalie position was also a big question mark coming into the season, but sophomore Ethan VanOffelen answered that call well.

VanOffelen finished with three shutouts on the season, including stuffing a big penalty shot against Crookston in the playoffs.

"He played big in some big games for us," the DL coach said. "He also had a big breakaway save against Bemidji in the second round of the playoffs, which saved us."

The offensive attack started generating goals, as senior Sean Colbert led the Lakers with eight goals and four assists, while senior Travis Kienitz notched seven goals.

Junior Cody Jordan and senior Andy Schupp also anchored the midfield, who supplied good combination passing to kickstart the attack.

The Lakers scored 16 goals in their final six games, compared to just eight goals in their first six contests.

"The team grew in many ways," Wegleitner said. "They improved and never fell past the midpoint to the bottom."

Senior Cole Neumeister also supplied good leadership and along with Tony Carlson and Tigges, gave the Lakers an outside threat to score.

Next season, the Lakers will be much more experienced with six seniors graduating.

"Cody Jordan is back and he will be looked upon to be a big performer," Wegleitner said. "We have some good guys going out, but we have some good ones coming in, as well."

Laker results

The 2010 Detroit Lakes boys' soccer team awards.

Laker Golden Ball -- Martin Lanning...Rookie of the Year -- Alex Vanegas...Most Improved -- Ethan VanOffelen...Unsung Hero -- Cody Jordan...Sportsmanship/Team Spirit -- Luke Wiebolt...Most Determined Award -- Cole Neumeister.

All-Conference: Lanning, Jordan, Sean Colbert.

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Brian Wierima
Detroit Lakes Newspapers Sports Editor for the last 15 years. St. Cloud State University graduate, who hails from Deer Creek, MN. 
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