Early goal sets tone as Alexandria wins over Detroit Lakes in season-opening 8AA battle
Jack Carlson and Myles Stansted delivered blows to the Detroit Lakes defense in Alexandria's 4-0 win on Saturday afternoon.
From start to finish, the Alexandria boys soccer team showed what it's capable of in its 4-0 win over Detroit Lakes in its season opener.
In between thunderstorms at Alexandria Area High School on Saturday, Aug. 28, the Cardinals picked up their first Section 8AA win of the season in dominating fashion. Senior Jack Carlson wasted no time in putting Alexandria on the board. In the game's opening minute, he beat the Detroit Lakes defense and slid the ball past goalkeeper Evan Thomas.
"That was a good, little surprise," Alexandria head coach Brandon Johnson said. "It definitely sets the tone. This is a special group of guys. They've been playing together for a long time, and it shows. They're veterans, and they're excited."
Despite maintaining control of the game, the Cardinals didn't score again until the 37th minute. Senior Myles Sansted buried a shot past the outstretched arms of Thomas on the right side of the goal to take a 2-0 lead. With nine seconds left in the half, Sansted beat Thomas again under the crossbar from 20 yards out.
"He found some pretty good wind," Johnson said with a laugh. "I was very proud of Myles for being able to see that spot and be in that position. He wasn't afraid to take a longer shot. He had the wind at his back, and he knew it. He caught DL's keeper out of position and took advantage of it."
After the half, Alexandria picked up where it left off when Carlson scored again. This time he buried a crossing pass from senior Holden Hansen in the 43rd minute. Justin Weglietner hopes to see a higher level of focus moving forward.
"Our captains and our senior attackers need to step up and be better," Weglietner said. "We've got to do a better job of holding the ball up top and communicating better. We've got some lessons we've learned out of game one. We've got a tough test next in (St. Cloud) Tech. That's going to be one where we want to avoid taking too many lumps."
Alexandria's defensive unit was stellar from start to finish in thwarting Laker scoring chances. Alexandria goalkeepers Ryan Meuwissen and Nicholas Levasseur saw little action on Saturday.
"I thought we were going to lose a lot in our back line from last year to this year," Johnson said. "We brought some JV players up, and it's pretty clear that we are going to be strong for a while. I am a defensive-minded coach, and offense is not my strength. I've spent a lot of time studying what can give us an advantage defensively. Soccer is a numbers game, and we're looking for that tactical advantage."
As the game rolled on, the Lakers started to find their footing. After losing a healthy crop of seniors from the year before, the early part of this season is letting the newcomers catch up to the speed of the game.
"I think we saw a positive showing from the young, inexperienced defenders," Weglietner said. "Cole (Deraney) and Lane (Yillienmi) had never played varsity soccer before. In the second half, they shut down (Alexandria's) right side attackers, which was beautiful. Those are some good shining points. We had some concerns on defense, but we found out we have some substitutes that can come in and play well."
"We knew we were coming in against a tough opponent," Weglietner said. "The biggest thing was focusing on ourselves. This is game one/ We were supposed to have a game Thursday that was rained out. We wanted to get our wheels under our feet and hit the ground running."
In the weeks leading up to Alexandria's first game, Johnson stressed the importance of communication in every play. He was pleased to see his team apply what they've practiced to pick up a season-opening win.
"A motto we've been stressing this year is sending information with the ball," Johnson said. "We want to give each other information on every touch of the ball to help us out in every part of the game. We wanted to focus on what DL was going to bring. I think the best thing we can do is take this season one game at a time. Today, we succeeded. Next week, we hope to do the same thing."