A weekend full of games provided many opportunities for development, growth and fun for the Lakeland boys’ soccer team.
The Thunderbirds took a road game against Northland Pines on Sept. 12. It was their third conference game of the year, losing 4-0.
Then they hosted the Lakeland Invite at River Valley Bank Field on Saturday, Sept. 14. The Thunderbirds beat Hayward 2-1 in their first game and fell to Kingsford 4-0 in their second.
Lakeland claimed the second place trophy, while Kingsford claimed first place.
“It was a good tournament,” coach Ihor Myshchyshyn said. “I think with the situation that we had today, we’re happy with it.”
The Eagles brought it early and often. The first great chance for the Eagles to score came in the 12th minute.
With Lakeland goalie Adam Klappa guarding the left side of the net for a shot, the right side of the net was free, and Lakeland’s Chandler Savel blocked a shot on goal with his head and saved the goal. The score was 0-0.
The Eagles’ next best chance to score in the first half came in the 28th minute, but Klappa made a diving stop to preserve the score.
The 32nd minute put the Eagles on the board. Liam Oas took a through ball in the middle of the field, beat the Lakeland defense and shot it by Klappa who started to come out to make the save.
Lakeland had their best chance to score in the 34th minute with Brandon Boh. He started at forward and just missed a shot off a nice pass from Kyle Peterson.
“We played them different positions then we typically play them,” Myshchyshyn said. “We were hoping to see if Kyle Bengtson was going to fill in the role that Boh plays in the middle while see if we can use Brandon Boh on top, maybe create one-v-one maybe one-v-two where his physicality and his skills he could have brought us a couple goals.”
In the second half, the Eagles picked up their momentum. Right away Oas scored again on a straight shot to the left of the goal. It was 2-0 Eagles in the 46th minute.
“They have good, quality players out there,” Myshchyshyn said. “It clicked for them. They got us when we maybe mentally questioned ourself a little bit, a little mistake here and there and they capitalized on that.”
With the field slick from rain and a little drizzle falling, the ball became slippery.
In the 57th minute, the Eagles took a shot right to the goalie. It went through Klappa’s fingers and into the goal. The Eagles led 3-0.
Boh and Matthew Cliver made a great run towards a goal in the 73rd minute, but it got snuffed out by the Eagles’ defense.
The Eagles had another goal up their sleeve. Northland Pines’ offensive attack made a couple of good moves around the Lakeland defense and scored the team’s fourth goal in the 76th minute.
Lakeland did have a couple of chances to score in the 77th and 78th minute. Kyle Bengtson had a shot on goal, but it was saved. The Eagles’ defense made it hard for them to score.
“(The passing) falls short from time to time especially when if you’re dealing with a team like them that are intelligent and smart, not necessarily chasing shadows,” Myshchyshyn said.
It was Boh doing his thing early with the help of his teammates during the game against Hayward at the Lakeland Invite. Off a pass from Bengtson, Boh scored early in the third minute.
“(Boh’s) a motivator, a lot of my players feed off of that. If I can put him in a place where he can come out 1-v-1 there’s a very good chance he’s going to come out of that challenge with the ball,” Myshchyshyn said.
From there it became a back-and-forth affair. In the 23rd minute, Hayward had a free kick. It ended up being a header for a shot attempt, but it went right to Lakeland goalie Vincent Strong.
Kyle Peterson also put up a good shot in the 29th minute. He shot it from a tough angle and it went right above the cross bar. The Thunderbirds still led 1-0.
Hayward gained a lot of momentum starting in the 31st minute. A couple of free kicks and a corner were both saved by Strong.
It wouldn’t last long. Hayward snuck one in the left post on a corner kick for a 1-1 tie heading into halftime.
In the second half, Judson Bybee made a key pass to set up Boh in the 53rd minute. Boh capitalized on it and took a shot right at the goalie. It bounced off the goalie and Boh kicked it in the net. It was 2-1 Lakeland lead.
“I really wanted to win this one because I was worried about the team’s mental confidence and I think that one was the one we needed to get, to get them to believe that we can play our game, not trying to adjust to play against opponents,” Myshchyshyn said.
Hayward had their best chance to tie the game in the in the 68th-69th minute, but was saved by Strong.
Kingsford came out firing with three goals in the first half during the game against Lakeland at the Lakeland Invite. Two of those goals were scored by Dan Hellman, the other by Kobe Gordon.
“(Kingsford) has a group of about four players that possess in the middle and distribute the ball really well,” Myshchyshyn said.
The Thunderbirds were down four starters for the game, including Boh and Strong. But it gave the coaching staff a chance to play and look at different players.
“It was fun to have (other players) here to give them a second look, to throw them in there for longer times,” Myshchyshyn said.
Dylan Wayland started in the goal and he made a nice save in the 66th and 73rd minute, but in the 67th minute, a beautiful cross in the box from Ben Backlund was finished off by a header from Marshall Shorkey.
Bengtson had a good look at a goal in the 73rd minute, but it was saved by Kingsford.
The team’s next game comes tonight at home against Mosinee starting at 7 p.m. Coverage of that will be in the Sept. 20 edition of The Times
Then, they travel to Antigo to play the Red Robins on Thursday, Sept. 19 starting at 4:30 p.m.
Brett LaBore may be reached at [email protected] or [email protected]