Girls soccer: King's hat trick highlights Detroit Lakes' second shutout win over Hillcrest
The Detroit Lakes girls soccer team shutout Hillcrest Lutheran Academy for the second time this season. The Lakers have two games left in the regular season before the Section 8-2A playoffs.
DETROIT LAKES – When the Section 8-2A girls soccer playoffs roll around, the Lakers hope it all comes together at the right time.
Detroit Lakes (6-8) got the better of Hillcrest Lutheran Academy for the second time this season on Tuesday night. The Lakers led for nearly 77 minutes over the comets in a 6-0 win.
“We really focused on passing to feet and pressuring the ball when the other team had it,” senior Clara Lundmark said. “We’ve kind of struggled with going to the ball on the opposite half. We did a lot of passing drills to work on that.”
Haydon King continued to shine in her breakout season. She scored twice in the opening 15 minutes to put the Lakers ahead 2-0.
“At the beginning of the season, it was more just kick the ball and let them run. Now, we’re passing the ball and doing repetitive passes up top,” Aastuen said. “Through balls were being completed 20% of the time compared to 50-60% of the time right now. Haydon is dropping back in order to be part of that buildup, which is super smart by her. There aren’t many girls who can catch her or Abby (Larson).”
Senior Baylee Branden cracked the score sheet with a goal in the 23rd minute. Aastuen was excited to see her breakthrough after a season full of hurdles.
“She’s worked hard and battled through injuries this year,” Aastuen said of Branden. “When she’s not dealing with an injury, she’s running a heck of a lot harder. I’m super happy to see her get a goal because of the work she puts in.”
Junior Abby Larson didn’t start the season with the team but has been an important piece for the Lakers in finding some consistency with their offensive attack. Larson scored on a shot that bounced in off the left post to put the Lakers ahead 4-0 in the 36th minute.
“She’s so strong on the ball,” Aastuen said of Larson. “When she’s on the ball, there aren’t many opposing teams that get it off of her. She’s so confident on the ball, and she brings that confidence to the team. A lot of girls get their confidence from her.”
The duo of King and Larson have been a problem for opposing teams. Their strong ball control and speed could pose issues for top seeds in the postseason.
“They’re crazy fast,” Lundmark said of King and Larson. “They both have such long legs, and they’re so light on their feet. They can change directions so quickly.”
The Lakers tacked on two more goals in the second half, including King’s third to complete the hat trick.
Elle Bettcher wasn’t tested often but was able to post her fourth clean sheet of the season. Bettcher came off one of her best performances of the season, where she made 26 saves in a 1-0 loss against St. Cloud Tech.
“She talked about how St. Cloud Tech might be her good luck charm because when she goes there, she’s just on,” Aastuen said. “She’s so pristine and so accurate. Everything that she had was brilliant. The one time the other team scored against us was when their first shot smashed Elle in the face, and they scored on the rebound. When her head was on her shoulders, they couldn’t score.”
“I always know Elle is back there,” Lundmark said. “I can tell just by looking at the shot whether Elle has it or not, and most of the time she has it. I trust Elle, and I trust my whole defensive line. We have each other’s back.”
With two games left in the regular season, Lundmark can see the light at the end of the tunnel.
“It’s all set in slowly since the beginning of the year,” Lundmark said of her senior season. “When we’re having a long practice, and I just want to go home, I tell myself that we’re OK because I don’t have many of these left. I’m taking it all in.”
Lundmark knows the Lakers have come a long way since losing the first three games of the season without scoring a goal.
“We went from 0-to-10,” she said of the Lakers’ improvements throughout the season. “It’s insane. “I think we were all scared in the beginning of the season when we lost Annie (Paulson), Sasha (Sekundiak), Kate (Stearns), Alex (Bettcher) and all of the seniors. Especially the defense–we were scared. We never played together at once, and it will be the same for next year too. We learned to play with each other, and now we’re doing awesome. I’m proud of us.”