Pirates fall to Red River, 6-0, in second game of key three-game stretch
Lon Boike didn't want his team to get caught looking ahead.
True, in the grand scheme of things, Crookston's contest at home against Grand Forks Red River on Monday meant little. With a crucial Section 8A road match at Hillcrest Lutheran looming the next day, the Pirates didn't want to kill themselves over a game against an out-of-state opponent, one that wouldn't affect their postseason outlook in the slightest.
"We went into the game thinking we've gotta be prepared for tomorrow," Boike, the Crookston boys' soccer coach, said. "We used it as ... a really good opportunity to work on some things."
But that didn't mean the Pirates weren't going just as hard as they would normally.
Crookston took Monday's game as not only a chance to get some more game reps in, but an opportunity to test itself against a strong opponent and put forth a good showing. And even though the scoreboard after 80 minutes read Home: 0, Guest, 6, Boike thought his team had done just that, despite falling to 1-7.
"We had a few breakdowns, but this is a really quality team," he said. "I thought we did a lot of really good things. ... Couple things happen here or there, it's a different game."
Red River (8-4-2) scored eight minutes into the contest, right before one of those "couple things" Boike mentioned took place. Senior striker Noah Kiel's shot went into the hands of Roughrider keeper Mahesh Pokhrel, whose feet were both behind the goal line. But the referee ruled that Pokhrel had caught Kiel's shot in front of the line and was holding it there. Boike disagreed.
"It looked to me like he was holding it by his shoulders," Boike said.
That would have resulted in a 1-1 tie, if not a fully "earned" one. But Crookston was undeterred regardless, defending well and holding Red River off the scoreboard for the next 20-plus minutes.
Then, the dam broke, as Red River scored three times in five minutes towards the end of the first half. The Pirates, meanwhile, hit the post on a shot around that same time.
"We still need to get better at marking up people on our weakside," Boike said. "They made some nice passes and got some easy goals. ... But defensively, we played pretty well. We had kids playing in the right spots, doing the right things, and that's all you can ask."
The Roughriders' surge, though, took the wind out of the Pirates' sails, according to Boike. Crookston didn't challenge much in the second half: instead, Lucas Heydt scored Red River's sixth and final goal by finishing off a hat trick in the 66th minute.
After the game, Boike maintained perspective. He was thankful the Pirates had come through the second of a three-games-in-four-days stretch with no serious injuries, and he was pleased with a number of things he saw from his team.
And even against a team as good as the Roughriders, in a game that could have been considered merely a supercharged practice, he had plenty of optimism that there was more his team could accomplish — if only they could catch a few breaks.
"If we can clean up just a couple of those little things, we can compete going down here against Hillcrest and at (East Grand Forks) and in the playoffs," Boike said. " ... We're so close to getting some of these things going our way. Hopefully it will start happening soon."
UP NEXT: The Pirates' contest against Hillcrest Lutheran (0-6) is a rematch of their prior meeting in Crookston, which took place on Sept. 10 and resulted in a 3-0 Pirate win.
That game was marked by a 10-save shutout by Kaleb Thingelstad (Sr.) and a hat-trick from Kiel — an all-around complete effort that Boike says the Pirates will need once again.
"We need to continue to play really good defense," Boike said. "But first, we gotta get a few goals too. I don't think they can match up speed-wise with Noah and Jacob (Miller), so I think we'll have some advantages on the offensive end."
- 7:35: Mo Dorudian (Red River)
- 31:36: Brecken Short (Red River)
- 32:19: Lucas Heydt (Red River)
- 36:50: Lucas Heydt (Red River)
- 53:59: Brecken Short (Red River)
- 65:22: Lucas Heydt (Red River)
- Crookston: Kaleb Thingelstad 16 saves (8 first half, 8 second), Caden Boike 3 saves (3 second half)
- Red River: Mahesh Pokhrel 1 save (1 first half)
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