Laker boys' soccer preview
An injury always creates opportunity, no matter when the affect of it is felt.
For the Detroit Lakes boys’ soccer team, losing senior goalie Ethan VanOffelen was a blow to the 2012 season, but the opportunity which was afforded to junior Connor Johnson will start paying dividends for the 2013 campaign.
Johnson’s experience gained last season during VanOffelen’s departure to injury, will be a crucial component for this year’s Lakers.
“Connor played goalie in about 10 to 11 games last season after Ethan went down and he played in some big games,” said DL head coach Justin Wegleitner. “Even though it hurt losing Ethan for that many games last season, it is paying off for us this year. Connor looks much more comfortable in the net and is taking on attackers.”
The Lakers will be looking to improve on a 7-10 finish last season and anything under .500 this time around, will be a disappointment.
“We have a lot of senior players who will provide valuable leadership on the team,” said senior midfielder and tri-captain Ben Thompson. “Our expectations will be to finish above .500 and we’ll have to work hard and step up our play to do it.”
Johnson will be guarded by a solid defense, led by seniors Colton Friesen and Ben Nelson.
The majority of experience returning, though, will come in the midfield and attacking line.
Speed will be provided by senior Brady Crawford, who will be paired with junior Bryant Windels.
Junior Johnathan Hallisey also will provide heavy pressure from his forward position.
The midfield is stocked with experience and skill in seniors Sam Bergren, Mark Shipman and Thompson.
“We have up to six impact players who can help us keep up with opposing teams,” Wegleitner said. “Bergren and Thompson should be providing valuable leadership in the midfield, as well.”
The main concern will be injuries, which in turn is affected by depth.
“The toughest number out there for us is how many we have out, because it’s a light number,” Wegleitner said. “Depth is where we are challenged. It might be tough for our 12th or 13th guy to match up with the opposing teams’ 12th or 13th player.”
Passing and playing possession ball will be key, as well, and then cashing in on their scoring opportunities when they do arise will be critical.
“We have a strong midfield, so we will need to control the ball,” Thompson added.
Building some momentum early in the season will definitely help a late-season run into the playoffs, where the Lakers obviously want to be peaking.
“We just need a few weekends and practices where we can find our groove, then we can dial it in for the section playoffs and make a run,” Wegleitner said.
The Lakers will open at Fergus Falls Thursday, for a 4 p.m. start.
DL’s home opener will be Saturday versus Alexandria, starting at 1 p.m. at the Rotary Soccer Complex.
The Detroit Lakes boys’ soccer 2013 schedule:
22 at Fergus Falls
29 at Hillcrest
30 at Crookston
7 Little Falls
9 at Bemidji
12 East Grand Forks
13-14 at West Fargo Tourney
26 at East Grand Forks
10 Section play-in
12 Section quarterfinals
15 Section semifinals
17 Section finals