Crookston boys' soccer season in review
This article is the second in a series recapping the seasons of Crookston High School's fall sports teams. Previously: girls' tennis. Today: boys' soccer.
A year of growing pains for the Crookston boys' soccer team ended on an optimistic note.
In 2019, Lon Boike's first season as head coach, the Pirates lost their first 11 games. They were outscored 63-6, as the growing team combined with a new coach proved predictably difficult.
But Crookston turned a corner down the stretch, going 2-2 over its last four games and putting forth one of its best performances in its final game — a 1-0 loss at Detroit Lakes in the Section 8A Playoffs. The Pirates played their best soccer at the end of the season; the task for 2020 was building off of that.
Crookston had solid moments this fall. On Sept. 8, it beat Hillcrest Lutheran 3-0 in a total team performance that featured a hat trick from Noah Kiel and Kaleb Thingelstad's first career shutout. The Pirates beat the Comets by the same score on Sept. 29 in Fergus Falls.
Blowouts took place too, though, despite long stretches of competitive play against more talented opponents. Crookston was outscored in its meetings with Detroit Lakes and Pelican Rapids by a combined score of 30-1. The two wins over Hillcrest Lutheran were its only two of the season.
But the Pirates, facing No. 2 seed East Grand Forks in the first round of the playoffs, didn't roll over in the slightest. They forced the Green Wave — who had outscored them 10-0 in two prior meetings — into a legitimate nail-biter, but couldn't quite come away with the huge upset, their season ending with a 2-1 defeat.
All in all, 2020 looked a whole lot like 2019 for Crookston — a losing record, albeit one dotted with bright spots. And at the very least, there were more of those bright spots towards the end.
- Record: 2-9 (2-7 Section 8A)
- Regular season: earned seventh seed in Section 8A North
- Postseason: lost 2-1 to East Grand Forks in Section 8A North Quarterfinals
- Scoring leaders: Noah Kiel (6 goals, 1 assist), Jacob Miller (2 goals, 2 assists)
- Goalkeeping leaders: Kaleb Thingelstad (138/180 saves), Caden Boike (18/28 saves)
- Seniors: Gabe Montieth, Gavin Anderson, Jacob Miller, Kaleb Thingelstad, Nolan Dans, Noah Dragseth, Noah Kiel
The two games against Hillcrest Lutheran were games in which it looked like Crookston could do no wrong. But the Pirates' season-ending loss was perhaps a more impressive showing.
To take into consideration: Crookston was without Kiel, the focal point of its offense, and playing a team that had beaten it 6-0 just six days prior. East Grand Forks threatened to turn it into a rout immediately, scoring two goals within 20 minutes.
But the Pirates began to adapt to their newly-installed, defense-oriented 5-3-2 system. They held the score to 2-0 at halftime, and in the 50th minute, Jacob Miller (a football player in his first year playing soccer) ran onto a long ball on the counterattack and scored to make it 2-1.
From there, Crookston was the more energized team. It held the Green Wave to only one shot on goal throughout the second half, and played with the intensity of a team knowing it had just 30 minutes to extend its season.
While the Pirates didn't get that far, they came away from the afternoon of Oct. 13 with their belief in their ability to compete vindicated.
Crookston goes into next season needing to replace Kiel and Miller (who accounted for every goal it scored this season), as well as a solid goalkeeper in Thingelstad and a defensive linchpin in Noah Dragseth. The Pirates will be young once again, but they were able to get some of their young players a real taste of varsity this fall.
Brannon Tangquist, Ashton Shockman, Nathan Kelly and Caden Boike all provided energy when substituted into games, and they'll be counted on for more in 2021. Meanwhile, Thor Harbott, an honorable mention All-Conference at defenseman, returns as a veteran anchor.
Throughout the season, Boike talked up the Pirates' JV squad plenty, indicating that the process of building the program is far from done.
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