Detroit Lakes downs Crookston, 4-0, behind second half surge
DETROIT LAKES — The friendly confines were just that for Detroit Lakes on Thursday night.
The National Federation of State High School Associations allows soccer fields to be between 55 to 80 yards wide and 100 to 120 yards long. Field 5 at Detroit Lakes' Rotary Park is on the longer side of both. And when the Lakers are at home, they take advantage.
Playing a quick, wide-open style that used all of their substantial field, Detroit Lakes beat Crookston, 4-0, here on Thursday, scoring three second half goals in rapid succession to drop the Pirates to 2-3 on the season.
"Honestly, we had a really great game," said Crookston coach Sarah Reese. " ... I was happy to see the girls play full intensity all 80 minutes, regardless of what the score was."
One week ago, the Lakers (4-1) beat the Pirates 1-0 in Crookston. That game was more of a slugfest than Thursday's rematch, and the location was one of the biggest reasons why.
"They have a beautiful complex here that they developed over the last several years," Reese said. "When you have a wide field and you know how to use that space well, that is quite the opportunity for you to use that to your advantage. They also move the ball very well."
To counteract this, Reese went with a low-pressure system of defense. The idea was for the Pirates to sink back and keep the Lakers to the outside, forcing them to really earn any opportunities they got in the middle of the field. This, too, was in contrast to last Thursday, when Detroit Lakes took less shots from outside and more from the center.
"With low-pressure defense, we're not chasing the ball," Reese said. "We're looking for the green space in the passing lanes to intercept (the ball) instead of chasing the ball from person to person, because that's not an effective strategy. ... You're gonna give the other team a little bit more time and space in the middle third, and you're not going to be quite as aggressive because you're working on energy conservation. You're working a space."
This compact approach allowed Crookston to keep the game scoreless through 35 minutes before the Lakers broke through. Still, Reese thought the Pirates' first half, after adjusting to the larger pitch, was excellent, despite a 7-1 shots-on-goal differential.
But Crookston came out flatter in the second half, the result of absorbing so much pressure. A 44th-minute Laker free kick flew over the Pirates' defense and to Kate Stearns, and they didn't react quickly enough to stop Stearns from finding the back of the net. Two minutes later, Reese Swanson (Fr.) let a long shot bounce off her legs, and Stearns pounced on the rebound for her second.
Stearns finished off her hat trick in the 54th minute on a breakaway. Reese thought she was offsides on the play, but it didn't matter.
"Sometimes you get the calls and sometimes you don't and you still have to continue to play till the whistle," she said. "That's a learning opportunity for us. Nevertheless, it went in."
Reese was impressed by her team's resiliency over the game's last 25 minutes. She thought Swanson, who had 13 saves, was "here, there and everywhere." Kailee Magsam (So.), playing in relief of an injured Aleah Bienek (Jr.), was "absolutely stellar" at outside back. Dillynn Wallace (Jr.), Rylee Solheim (Jr.) and JoJo Wallace (8) worked well together at the back as well.
"There were a couple scoring opportunities where Kailee made the run and Reese made the attempted save and it popped out, and JoJo made the back run," Reese said. "Really a lot of great help defense. ... After they get a couple goals, it's really easy to sit in and get comfortable and then the goals kind of trickle in, but thankfully we were able to reset mentally."
But while Crookston held strong defensively, it wasn't able to turn it into offense of its own, taking just two shots on goal all game. Reese thought this was due to excitability in transition, as the Pirates' passing out of their own third was without the necessary composure. Going forward, she sees it as one of the pieces to the puzzle.
"We need to continue to do what we do best, which is play awesome defense and be composed in the center," Reese said. "Then, help ourselves out on the attacking third."
UP NEXT: Crookston will be on the road next Tuesday at East Grand Forks (3-0). The Green Wave, who went 14-2-2 last season, won both matchups against the Pirates, by scores of 15-0 and 7-0. This year, East Grand Forks has scored 18 times and is yet to give up a goal.
- 35:00: Ava Jones (Detroit Lakes), assist Maddy Bowers
- 44:00: Kate Stearns (Detroit Lakes)
- 45:31: Kate Stearns (Detroit Lakes)
- 53:03: Kate Stearns (Detroit Lakes)
- Crookston: Reese Swanson 13 saves (6 first half, 7 second half)
- Detroit Lakes: Elle Bettcher 2 saves (1 first half, 1 second half)
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