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DL lifts Crookston Curse in 1st round

Laker junior Stephen Sinclair (22) battles a Crookston defender for a header during thier game at Rotary Fields Tuesday afternoon.

The "Crookston Curse" will not be a factor this time around in the Section 8-1A playoffs for the Detroit Lakes boys' soccer team.

After losing to the Pirates in the playoffs the last several seasons -- including last year's upset of the Lakers in round one -- DL tore that monkey off its back with a commanding 4-0 victory Tuesday.

The No. 3 Lakers scored early and often against the defensive-minded No. 6 Pirates, as DL held a sizable 3-0 edge heading into halftime.

"It was great getting up like that, but we didn't take it for granted heading into the second half," said senior captain Cole Neumeister. "It's good to get that Crookston Curse off of us."

Senior forward Sean Colbert set the pace for the Lakers with the first goal, as the assist went to junior Nate Friesen.

That goal was followed at the 24-minute mark in the first half by junior midfielder Cody Jordan, on a hard charge on the Pirate net for the 2-0 advantage, as senior Andy Schupp was credited with the assist.

DL upped the ante to 3-0 on the first of two Marty Lanning goals, that coming at the 26:15 mark in the first half. Jordan lent a helping hand with the assist.

Laker head coach Justin Wegleitner mixed up his lineup a bit, moving Lanning to the attack line from the defensive unit.

It paid good dividends, with Lanning picking up his second goal in the second half, on a rebound effort off a Travis Kienitz hard shot on net 67:00 into the game.

"It wasn't a big transition moving up to (forward) from defense," Lanning said. "The defense definitely handled it well, too."

The move of leaving just three defenders back was to counteract against Crookston's defensive scheme, which crowded their side of the field and DL's attackers.

"One thing which Crookston has done in the past is frustrate us on our attacking side," Wegleitner said. "We are stronger than Crookston in the midfield and in our forward positions, and they lay it heavy on the defensive side.

"I moved Marty up to forward, which helped keep the pressure on their end of the field."

The offensive moves also paid dividends with the early lead, putting extra pressure on Crookston's attack, which wasn't generating too much pressure on Laker sophomore goalie Ethan VanOffelen, who also came up big.

VanOffelen finished with the shutout and six saves -- including a huge stuff on a Crookston penalty kick.

"That's good to see Ethan come up big there on the penalty kick," Wegleitner said. "That should build up his confidence."

The Lakers will now travel to No. 2 Bemidji, which is 12-4-1, this Thursday for a 4 p.m. start.

DL has lost to Bemidji twice by the scores of 4-1 and 3-1, but the Lakers will be going by the adage of, "It's hard to beat a team three times in one season."

"We need to control their attack and play better defensively, because they have put seven goals on us," Wegleitner said. "We can't give up anything simple, which we have in the past against them."

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