The Pirate boys’ soccer season came to an end Tuesday evening in a 1-0 loss to the host Detroit Lakes Lakers in the opening round of the Section 8A Tournament, but it’s possible Crookston played one of their best games of the season.

    The Lakers didn’t secure the win until the final minute, when a free kick from around 25 yards out glanced of the head of a Detroit Lakes player; the deflection and resulting misdirection was enough to put the ball past Pirate goaltender Kaleb Thingelstad, who made 21 saves in the contest.

    “One of the DL players barely got a header on the ball, which slightly altered the angle of the shot,” Head Coach Lon Boike explained. “Kaleb was ready to make the save. We had a defensive player on the ball but the DL player was just trying to head the ball and he got lucky.”

    While Thingelstad was particularly busy, the Pirates produced nine shots on the Laker netminder.

    “Kaleb was outstanding,” Boike noted. “It seemed like over half the game was played in our defensive end, but Kaleb and our defense did an outstanding job of limiting DL’s good looks at the goal.”

    The Pirates were winless for most of the season, before winning two in a row last weekend to build their confidence entering the postseason. They also put in a solid effort in a loss to East Grand Forks. Boike said as the season wore on, the Pirates played better in the games because they performed better in practice. “It was one of our goals at the beginning of the season, to keep improving throughout the season and then be ready to make a strong run in the playoffs,” he said. “I felt we showed marked improvement throughout the season and accomplished our goal of playing well in the playoffs. While it was disappointing we lost, I think the boys felt good about themselves and how they played last night.”

    The loss ended the prep soccer careers for a handful of Crookston seniors, Tai Baig, Isiah Barlow, Cooper Brown, Ben Brantner and Jacob Brunelle. Baig, Barlow and Brown primarily played defense, while Brantner and Brunelle played on the offensive end. All five were leaders on and off the field and will be missed, Boike said.

    “All five seniors had exceptional knowledge of the game; their positions will not be easy to fill next year,” the first-year coach said. “However, we do have some young, talented players who I hope will eventually fill the spots.”

    If the Pirates are to improve on their win total in 2020, Boike said they need to put in the work in the offseason and keep refining their soccer skills. “I think we have made great strides in a number of different areas, and it would be great to continue next season where we left off this year,” he said.

Girls done in by 7-goal effort

    The Pirate girls traveled to Fergus Falls to take on Hillcrest Lutheran Academy in the first round of the Section 8A Tournament, and they were done in by an epic performance by Hillcrest senior Kindra Peterson, who scored all of her team’s goals in the 7-0 victory.

    The Pirates end the season with a 4-12 record.

    Crookston managed no shots on the Hillcrest net, while Pirate eighth-grade goaltender Reese Swanson made three saves.

    Seven seniors played their last soccer game for the Pirates: Sophia Sanders, Kylee Meier, Brinna Egeland, Claudia Dumrongkietieman, Morgan Coauette, Alexis Wilkens and Karen Perez-Gonzalez.