DL boys' soccer teams wrap up summer with trip to state tournament
The Detroit Lakes summer soccer programs had a very successful season this year, as both the U-14 and U-16 boys' teams made the trip to the state tournament over the weekend of July 27-29.
The U-16 boys, coached by Dave Carter, earned an automatic trip as the No. 2 seed in the district, while the U-14 boys, coached by Justin Wegleitner, had to play their way through the district tournament.
It was an exciting finish to the season for the U-16 team, as the boys took on Edina --?the eventual tournament champions -- in their first game on Friday, July 27.
The DL boys scored just 15 minutes into the first half.
"We started off scoring first," said Carter. "Jon Carter had a corner kick to Victor Williams, and he headed the ball in. It was a great start to the game."
Unfortunately, it was also to be DL's last score of the game.
Edina was stymied through much of the first half, but by the time the halftime whistle blew, the score was tied at 1-1.
"The defense -- Charlie Smith, Andrew Lambertson and Cole Cossette -- managed to keep them (Edina) out at first, but they let one goal in toward the end of the first half," Carter said.
But in the second half, things didn't go so well for DL.
"In the second half, they (Edina) showed their talent and scored three more goals," the head coach said.
The final score was 4-1 in favor of Edina.
"It was a good game for us," Coach Carter said. "We scored first, and had a lot of good possessions --?it wasn't a one-sided game. The other team was just able to put more and more pressure on us."
The second game, however, "wasn't so good for us," he continued. Newcastle held Detroit Lakes scoreless in the Saturday matchup, while scoring five times for a final tally of 5-0 in their favor.
"They had a different style of play, and we just were not able to score," the coach said. "We weren't able to hold them or possess the ball... they just had a way of getting through us. We didn't perform as well as we could have."
But luckily for DL, the tournament didn't end there, as the boys saved their best game for last.
In Sunday's game against Valley United (from Apple Valley), "we were chasing them all the time," Carter said.
But in this case, the chase was successful. Every time Valley United scored in the first half, DL had an answer, as Victor Williams scored the first three goals for DL, earning the hat trick.
And even though the first half ended with their opponents ahead 4-3, the DL boys did not give up. In the second half, Jon Carter tied the game on a pass from Williams, and had three more opportunities to score in the half.
He hit the goal post a couple of times, then finally, on his third try, scored the winning goal (his second of the game).
"When he scored there was only about a minute left," Dave Carter said. "The two teams were very close, but we had a lot more opportunities to score.
"It was a very exciting, free-flowing game. We had a pretty good time down there, and it ended on a very nice note for us."
U-14 boys play tough, but come up empty
The U-14 boys didn't have quite as much success against their state opponents, as they went winless in the tournament.
However, Wegleitner saw the tournament as an important learning experience for his young team.
Though the U-14 teams from DL have made state in each of the past four years, Wegleitner said only one member of this year's team had been on the state roster in 2006.
"We started the season with some new players, and a couple who hadn't played for us in a few years," he said. "I knew it was going to be a learning process."
But he also knew his players were an ambitious bunch --?even before their first practice session, "the boys came to me and said, 'We want to go to state this year."
They achieved their goal, but not without some struggles. Finishing the regular season with a record of three wins, four losses and one tie, DL was ranked seventh entering the district tournament, July 20-21, where they faced, and defeated, the No. 3-ranked Little Falls.
"We ended up beating Little Falls 2-1," Wegleitner said. "That sent us to state."
But when they arrived the U-14 boys were already at a disadvantage, having to play four games in three days (the Twin Cities teams played some of their later-round games on Monday and Wednesday).
"We hoped to put forth a good, strong showing, but we were big-time underdogs," Wegleitner admitted.
Nevertheless, DL was hoping to continue its trend of pulling off upsets against higher-ranked opponents.
Unfortunately, it was not to be, as the No. 1 seed in the west district, St. Louis Park, held the DL boys scoreless in their first game, eventually winning 7-0.
"Seven goals... that was more goals than we'd let in against any other team this season," Wegleitner said.
In the second game, DL "played a lot better" against south district opponents Valley United.
"We went in knowing we would have another tough game, but we felt more focused and ready to go," Wegleitner said.
And while the final score of 5-0 in favor of their opponents didn't appear to be a successful outing, Wegleitner said, the boy "came through it, stayed focused and accomplished a few things."
For instance, they did a better job of holding possession on the offensive side of the field, and created a total of four scoring opportunities in the first half.
"It was a good start for us," the coach said. But a third goal for the opposing team in the final 15 seconds of the first half was a blow for DL.
They held their opponents to just two goals in the second half, but failed to score, as the final tally was 5-0 in favor of the Apple Valley team.
The third game was a slightly more successful effort, as DL scored its first goal of the tournament against Maple Brook.
"This was a team we thought we could run with," Wegleitner said. And run they did, as they "had a lot more possessions on the opponents' side, and the defense was able to limit their opportunities (to score)."
Though the final score was 3-1 in favor of Maple Brook, it was the team's best outing of the tournament, Wegleitner said.
"I felt we established ourselves and showed we could play with some of these teams," he said.
But the heat played a factor in the team's second outing of the day, as they took on the top-ranked St. Paul Snipers in the late afternoon sun.
Undefeated in regular season play, the Snipers would remain so against DL, ringing up nine goals while DL failed to score.
"It was tough to regroup," Wegleitner said of playing two games in one day.
"The boys came out and played hard, but St. Paul controlled the field, and the way they played and moved the ball was too much for us to match, man to man."