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DL boys' soccer makes history

Senior Brandon Baker was a key component for the 13-win Laker boys' soccer team this season with seven goals and five assists.

Simply put, it was a historic and memorable season for the Detroit Lakes boys' soccer team.

There were a bevy of records set by the 2008 Lakers, including where it counts -- wins and winning percentage.

Contributing to their new winning record of a 13-4-2 mark, was the longest winning streak in DL's history of 11 games.

DL head coach Justin Wegleitner -- who has been in that capacity since the start of the Laker's soccer program -- summed the season up pretty well.

"It's the best season ever for us," he said. "From a total team aspect, this is the best team I've seen here at Detroit Lakes. It was just an outstanding season."

Entering the season, there were some doubts hanging over the Lakers, after losing nine seniors from the year before.

But what could have been a deficiency due to losing that many seniors, the Laker's chemistry was the main facet to the team's success.

"Chemistry is so key in soccer because you have 11 players on the field for 80 minutes," Wegleitner said. "When you are not working together to have a common goal, things don't work out.

"But these guys set out with a common goal at the start of the season and that was to finish it as being a power in the section."

With an impressive 11-game winning streak -- and a West Fargo Tournament championship -- under their belt, the Lakers were just that entering the Section 8-1A playoffs.

DL earned a 2-1 win in the section quarterfinals over Minnewaska and was set up against St. Cloud Cathedral in the semifinals.

The game barely tipped to the Crusaders, who won 1-0 on a late second-half goal.

If the fortunes could have been changed, DL might have been making more history by being the first Laker soccer team to qualify for the state playoffs.

The Lakers attacked their opponents from all angles -- with 14 different players scoring.

But it was the team game which eventually dominated opponents by a 54-19 scoring margin.

"The first couple games of our 11-game winning streak, we developed a team game," the DL coach said. "The defense supported the midfield, the midfield supported the attackers."

Senior attackers Victor Wilkins and Brandon Baker brought to the table a versatile scoring package, which was complimented well by a talented midfield.

Wilkins started off a bit slow, going goal-less in the first four games. But fortunes changed for the senior forward, who collected a team-high 11 goals, to go along with teammate Baker's seven.

"Those two were a potent scoring duo," Wegleitner said. "The nice thing about those two, was that they brought different things to the table.

"Wilkins is a technical player, one who can play the ball off one or two touch passes. Baker uses his speed and dribbling ability to get through defenders."

The midfield David Jonason, Jon Carter and Brandon Johnson became offensive forces, making it difficult for defenders to just focus on DL's attackers.

The three-year starter Carter had nine goals and nine assists, while Jonason lit it up for 10 goals and four assists.

"Unfortunately, later in the season, Jonason wasn't completely 100-percent healthy, so his full potential wasn't reached," Wegleitner said. "Jon Carter was such a great leader on and off the field. It was nice to see him score nine goals."

Wegleitner credited Johnson for bringing a physical presence to the midfield. Johnson had two goals, but two big ones, with one being the game-winner against Fergus Falls early in the season.

But the midfield couldn't have focused their attention on attacking the opposing teams' net if it were not for a stout DL defense.

The trio of juniors Charlie Smith, Joe Thompson and Cole Cossette -- along with the development of freshman Cody Jordan -- allowed the defense to hold down their side of the field without the help of the midfield.

With a stringent defense in front of junior goalie Danny Engberg, the Lakers were a tough team to score on -- as prevalent by Engberg's nine shutouts on the season.

"By the end of the season, I thought our defensive unit was the best in the section," Wegleitner said.

Jordan also showed flashes of being an up-and-comer on defense, after he played a key part of shutting down St. Cloud Cathedral's scoring phenom Michael Colburn in the semifinals.

The Lakers lose five seniors, including Wilkins, Carter, Baker, Johnson and Travis Maristuen.

But they will bring back six key components from what is being considered the best Laker team ever.

Three are back with five points or more in Thompson (five), Jonason (10) and Smith (five).

"The bar has been set and 2009 hopefully will bring a lot of success, as well," Wegleitner included.

But it will be a high bar to reach and surpass, which was set by the best team DL has seen.

Laker results

Detroit Lakes boys' soccer 2008 season stats -- Record: 13-4-2.

Scoring (goals-assists) -- Victor Wilkins 11-11; David Jonason 10-4; Jon Carter 9-9; Brandon Baker 7-5; Joe Thompson 5-1; Charlie Smith 4-1; Brandon Johnson 2-1; Andrew Friesen 2-1; Andy Schupp 2-0; Jacob Berneus 1-1; Danny Engberg 1-0; Nate Friesen 0-1; Cody Jordan 0-1; Cole Cossette 0-1. Team: 54-36.

Goalie stats (goals against-shutouts) -- Engberg (12-3-1) .63-9; Alex Guetter (1-1-1) 2.3-0.

DL awards -- All-Conference: Wilkins, Carter, Engberg, Smith...Laker Golden Ball: Wilkins...Rookie of the Year: Jake Hanson...Most Improved Player: Cody Jordan...Unsung Hero: Thompson...Sportsmanship Award: Cossette...Most Determined: Carter.

2009 Captains: Jonason, Smith and Cole Neumeister.