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Butzer earns prestigious soccer honor

Anya Butzer’s (pictured fifth from right, back row) teammates surprised her with a congratulations party at Zorbaz for being nominated to the Class 1A All-State team. SUBMITTED PHOTO

In the world of sports, the most noticed players on the field of play usually are the ones putting up the flashy numbers and stats, while the role players mostly go under the radar.

But without those supporting players, those gaudy stats more than likely could not be recorded.

For the Detroit Lakes girls’ soccer team, many of the team’s scoring plays, along with defensive stands, were started by one player – senior defensive midfielder Anya Butzer.

It’s a position which mostly goes unnoticed on the stat sheet, since she only scored two goals the entire season.

But to the experienced soccer eye, Butzer’s role was invaluable to the success of the Lakers’ team, which went 13-4-2.

Even though her numbers were not glamorous, Butzer still made her presence felt on the field, with proof in the pudding.

Butzer became just the second Laker girls’ soccer player to be nominated to the Class 1A All-State team, which was voted by the MSHSL coaches.

It’s an honor which is bestowed on just two percent of the state’s soccer players.

“I haven’t thought about how big an honor this really is,” Butzer said. “You don’t get a lot of recognition as a defensive midfielder, but it’s nice that not only my coach noticed it, but the opposing coaches as well.”

Her coach, Dave Carter, certainly appreciated Butzer’s play for the last five years, after she was called up to play varsity as an eighth grader.

“She is one of those unsung heroes,” Carter said. “She isn’t out there scoring a lot or saving a bunch of goals, but she is what I call a ‘playmaker’.

“She is the one setting up the plays and directs where the play is going to go, or she is out there breaking up the opposing teams’ attacks. Anya is just a very versatile player.”

Being a defensive midfielder, versatility is a must, since that role involves both playing defense, as well as transitioning the ball to the attack.

It’s a role Butzer has thrived in for the last five seasons and why she was looked upon as a very strong player by the opposing coaches.

The first DL player to be named and nominated to the All-State team did put up some very impressive numbers, with Christy Balega earning the honor and becoming the Lakers’ all-time scoring leader.

Butzer’s more humble play may have been the exact opposite of Balega’s, in that her career didn’t put up the big goal numbers, but she wouldn’t have had it any other way.

“Team” is what Butzer is all about and her teammates appreciated her strong leadership, as well.

The Lakers held a surprise party for her at Zorbaz in Detroit Lakes the day before she was going to go down to the All-State banquet to accept her award.

In turn, Butzer appreciated everything her teammates gave her, as well.

“This honor isn’t just about the individual, it’s about the team,” Butzer said. “I would have never been nominated without playing on a great team.

“It was a good season to end my (prep) career on.”

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