Laker boys' soccer takes second in WF tourney
For the past several seasons, the Detroit Lakes boys' soccer team has used the West Fargo Tournament as a boost into the final stretch of the season.
For the last two years, the Lakers have come out of West Fargo as champions and this year was a near miss of being a three-time champ.
The Lakers finished 2-1 in the weekend tourney and tied for second overall, behind currently undefeated Shanley and tied with Bismarck St. Mary's.
"It was a good weekend," said DL head coach Justin Wegleitner. "It got us back to .500 at 5-5-1 and it gives us some momentum heading into an important final stretch of our season."
The Lakers didn't start out as primed up for the tournament as they should have, though, losing to St. Mary's 4-0.
The Bismarck squad controlled play and possession throughout the first half, while the DL defense was kicked back on their heels, resulting in a 3-0 halftime advantage.
"Bismarck was one of the better teams in the tournament and we came out flat against them," Wegleitner said. "After that first half, we knew we had to change things up for the second half."
Changes were made and were effective, but it was too little, too late, as St. Mary's plugged in another goal eight minutes into the second half.
"The defense did play better and forced their shots to the outside, but we didn't have enough forward possession in our attack," the DL coach added. "St. Mary's pressured us hard in the first 30 minutes of the second half and then dropped back in the final 10 minutes to hold their lead."
But Saturday the Lakers had a renowned energy, crushing Jamestown, N.D., 8-0 in the first of two games on the day.
Senior forward Sean Colbert struck with just four minutes off the clock, after he made a nice pass to junior forward Travis Kienitz, who found the nylon.
"It was nice to see that timing and fluidity of the offense on that goal," Wegleitner said.
Junior midfielder Cody Jordan put DL up 2-0 at the 10-minute mark, while a healthy Cole Neumeister stuck for a 3-0 advantage with just under a minute left to halftime.
The DL defense also kept the Jamestown attackers off of goalie Ethan VanOffelen, who only saw three weak shots on net.
The Lakers exploded for five more goals in the second half, with two of them being for players notching their first varsity tally of their young careers.
Eighth grader Sebastian Mienung assisted on eighth grader Luke Payne's first-ever varsity goal, while junior Gabe Foltz recorded his first score for DL's last tally of the game.
Others finding goals included Kienitz, Andy Schupp on a header and Jordan on an unassisted effort after a nice steal within the penalty area.
DL also didn't allow a shot on goal in the second half.
"We also got to sub Jacob Kempenich for Ethan in goal, with Ethan getting some playing time on the field," Wegleitner said. "We had some good positives from our younger players, which bodes well for our future."
The third game turned into scrappy, defensive battle, but the Lakers came out on top of Mandan, N.D., 1-0.
The goal came on a lucky DL bounce on a throw in by senior defenseman Kirby Inderrieden, which found its way over a Laker attacker and the Mandan goalie.
The loose ball was deflected into the unmanned goal by a charging Tony Carlson, who had to chest bump it in for the only goal of the game.
"Again, the defense limited Mandan to no shots on goal in the second half and kept all the pressure to the outside," Wegleitner said. "We also held a big advantage in corner kicks (13-2), which showed we had much more pressure on goal than they did."
The Lakers will face East Grand Forks Thursday in their final home game of the regular season, while traveling back to West Fargo Saturday.
"This is a big part of our schedule, with four games against section and conference opponents," Wegleitner said.
If the Lakers can pull out four wins, they will be in good position to host not one, but two games in the Section 8-1A playoffs, as well as defending their conference championship.