Pictured: Jose Contreras Mondragon and Ike Koenig battle for the ball in the ROCORI game.
October 4 @ Cold Spring
ROCORI 2 Minnewaska 1
Minnewaska’s first match of the week was hosted by the Spartans of Rocori. Minnewaska went into the match with a season record of 6-4-0 while the Spartan opened the evening with a record of 5-8-0.
“Rocori has a solid team but faced a two week stretch of injuries and illnesses. During that stretch, they dropped five matches. We knew going into the match it would be a very tight affair,” commented varsity coach Ted Hill.
Hill was not incorrect, as the first half of the match found both teams attacking and counterattacking. Neither team was able to gain much traction in possession or offense. The defenses of both teams dominated the first 40 minutes of the match.
“Our defenders, Konner Hanson, Connor Quelle and Isaac Meyer, along with reserve Jose Contreras Mondragon and keeper Hunter Kloos, did a great job in the half. Rocori has some awesome scoring potential that we kept in check for the half,” stated Hill.
The five-man Laker midfield of Ike Koenig, Tate Reichmann, Ethan Quelle, Genaro Contreras Mondragon and Aaron Feigum split possession with the Rocori midfield throughout the half, and offensive opportunities were at a premium for both sides. The result at the end of the first 40-minutes of play was a 0-0 tie.
The second stanza of the match opened with Rocori scoring the first goal as a result of a free kick from 32 yards. Cesar Avalos drove a shot that Minnewaska keeper, Hunter Kloos, could not corral. The rebound dropped to the foot of Logan Hanson who gave the Spartans a lead in the 49th minute.
“Avalos’ shot was a knuckle-ball and Hunter did a great job on the initial save. When he spilled the rebound, Hanson cleaned up. Hunter had no chance for the second save,” commented Hill.
This early score from Rocori seemed to awaken the Lakers’ offense as they recorded shots from Damon Uhde, Blake Nelson and Ike Koenig over the next 10 minutes of play. This pressure led to the Minnewaska equalizing in the 59th minute.
Minnewaska sophomore Blake Nelson slotted a crossing pass into the Rocori penalty area. Senior Ethan Quelle raced onto the ball and struck a solid right-footed shot into the Spartan goal.
With the match knotted at one goal apiece for the two teams, Minnewaska and Rocori seemed destined for overtime. However, overtime was not to come on this evening. With less than four minutes remaining before the final whistle, Rocori junior Dylan Mick would sprint up the right flank and rip a shot that beat Kloos’ near bar.
“Hunter was disappointed in himself for giving up the goal, but Mick struck the shot in the only space that could result in a goal. Hunter had taken away all other options. Soccer is a game of inches and Mick found the inches that mattered on that shot,” said Hill.
Minnewaska would continue to pressure forward in the last minutes of the game but would end up taking a tough loss on the night.
October 5 @ Minnewaska
Minnewaska 6 Melrose 0
On Tuesday evening the Lakers were back at work hosting a Dutchmen side that was seeking its first victory of the season after 10 losses.
“After the disappointment of Monday night we needed to respond positively on Tuesday. We had some injuries that would alter our line-up. Sophomore Connor Quelle has been struggling with a thigh injury throughout the season that was aggravated in the Rocori match, as a result Jose Contreras Mondragon got his first start of the season. Alec Larson has suffered from a chronic back injury this season and has seen limited minutes as a result. Tate Reichmann and Ike Koenig have been playing with some ankle issues throughout the season, and the Rocori match aggravated those injuries, but both were able to make the start,” said Hill.
“Early in the match shots from Blake Nelson, Damon Uhde, and Ethan Quelle were well struck, but right at Becerra. Sometimes these beginnings are the shadows of play yet to come,” stated Hill.
The Lakers would open the scoring at the 10-minute mark when Blake Nelson found Ethan Quelle at 12 yards. Quelle would side-step Melrose defender Miguel Abonce Garcia before scoring on the play.
Quelle was at it again four minutes later as he connected on a free kick from 20 yards at the 14-minute mark.
The Lakers continued to dominate the half in possession, shots and corner kicks. Minnewaska launched 13 shots on goal to 0 for the Dutchmen. Minnewaska also carried a staggering advantage in possession with 65% of the possession for the half.
“The team played well in every aspect of the match. Defenders and midfielders linked well in the half. Midfielders found our forwards in good positions to shoot. Our only area of concern was a couple poorly timed runs that put us into an offside position. For the second half we looked at making flat runs to beat a very static back line of defenders,” said Hill.
The Lakers would roar out in the second half and put the match out of reach in the first 10 minutes of play.
Two more goals from Quelle, at 42:00 and 47:00, gave him four goals for the match. Those goals were assisted by Isaac Koenig and Blake Nelson respectively.
Tate Reichmann would record the Lakers fifth goal of the match assisted by junior midfielder Genaro Contreras Mondragon in the 49th minute.
The final goal of the night for the Lakers would come at the 55-minute mark with Damon Uhde finishing after a pass from Tate Reichmann.
The Lakers pelted the visiting keeper Becerra with 34 shots on the night. For the final 25 minutes of the match the Lakers reserves, Jarrod Haus, Ethan Curry, Thomas Poegel, Caleb Mahoney, Alec Larson and Connor Quelle played along side established players.
“We were looking to accomplish a few things tonight. We wanted to finish out the Granite Ridge Conference schedule with a win and secure a second-place finish behind Cathedral. We wanted to get out of the match without injuries. We wanted to audition some players for next season. With our reserves off the bench we were able to move players to different positions. Connor Quelle has been forced into a defensive role, but this was a good opportunity to watch him in the midfield and identify areas he may need to work on moving forward. Ethan Curry got a taste of both forward and midfield, as we look for the best position for him moving forward. Alec Larson was able to shake off some of the cobwebs from his injury and get some minutes in to work back into form,” stated Hill.
October 7 @ Minnewaska
Minnewaska 4 Fergus Falls 0
Thursday found the Lakers hosting Fergus Falls at “The Bank” for Senior Night.
“We are lucky enough to have eight seniors in the program this season. This group of young men, and one young woman, have been an important part of this program from their youth soccer days right through our final regular season match. They, along with their parents, have supported soccer in a small market school. All I can say to all of them is thank you for being part of our soccer program,” said Hill.
Minnewaska wasted no time establishing possession in the match. The Lakers midfield of Ethan Quelle, Ike Koenig, Genaro Contreras Mondragon and Aaron Feigum controlled the match quickly with snappy possession. The Lakers marked their first goal at seven minutes into the match. Lakers’ leading scorer, Ethan Quelle, notched his 21st goal of the season after receiving a pass from Ike Koenig. Quelle and Koenig have played well off each other throughout the season for the Lakers.
Damon Uhde would put the Lakers up 2-0 at 15 minutes. Uhde received a throw in from Noah Palmer that he took up the right flank, beating two Otter defenders, then slicing a shot that beat Leighton Buckmeier for the goal. The Lakers would continue to pepper Buckmeier, firing 12 shots on net in the half.
Minnewaska would put the match out of reach only eight minutes into the second half. Damon Uhde carried the ball rapidly up the right side before being pulled down by the final Otter defender. The foul was committed in the Otter penalty area resulting in a penalty kick for the Lakers. Ethan Quelle would step to the twelve-yard spot and crack a right-footed shot that beat Buckmeier giving the Lakers a 3-0 lead.
“Damon has created three penalty kicks for us this season with his pace. We haven’t seen too many left backs that can run with him. They get desperate and pull him down. You just can’t teach speed,” commented Hill.
Fergus Falls tried to claw back into the match with shots from distance. Minnewaska keeper Hunter Kloos handled these shots easily as he moved on to record his third shut out of the 2021 season.
“Hunter has come a long way in his 11 matches this season. He has been helped with a strong defensive trio in front of him. Konner Hanson, Isaac Meyer, Connor Quelle, and recently Jose Contreras Mondragon, have done an incredible job throughout the season limiting high powered offenses to poor shots on our goal,” stated Hill.
The Laker eleven would score one more on the evening when Ethan Quelle found Blake Nelson standing on the six-yard line. Blake Nelson, who had been active in the second half with four shots, finished his final shot of the evening, putting the Lakers up 4-0 in the match with only 12 minutes left to play.
The Lakers would end the night as they began, with eight seniors on the field. Seniors Ethan Quelle, Ike Koenig, Konner Hanson, Isaac Meyer, Alec Larson, Jarrod Haus, Tate Reichmann and Dakota Holder started the game and finished the game for the Lakers. Minnewaska finished the regular season with an 8-5-0 record. The Lakers will begin Section 8A this week as the #4 seed in the section.