Inexperience, injuries lead to 0-5 start
Forest Lake sophomore Braden Anderson wound up and took the shot. And that’s when the celebration began.
“It was crazy,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to get the ball, but it came to me. It probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do, but I decided to put up the shot. And it went in. Then we celebrated — we were the happiest team that lost 6-1 ever.”
Anderson’s goal from roughly 25 yards out came in the waning moments of a 6-1 loss to Anoka at Ranger Stadium on Saturday, Sept. 11. So why the celebration? It was the first goal for Forest Lake in four games this season.
“We knew goals would be a challenge this season,” coach Joe Tomas said. “We concentrated on the defense early in the season, and that took away from our ability to move forward. It’s a frustrating way to play; we’ve had to ‘park the bus’ in front of our goal.”
And that parked bus was not to stop the opposition from scoring. Last week Blaine claimed a 4-0 victory on Tuesday, Sept. 7, and two days later Cretin-Derham Hall beat the Rangers 8-0.
Injuries also have contributed to Forest Lake’s rough start. The biggest was to senior goalkeeper Terek Tomas, who suffered leg contusions midway through the season opener and has not played since.
“It’s been nice to give the sophomores some experience, and Payton [Grulkowski] has been doing a good job,” Coach Tomas said. “But the team just plays different when Terek is back there, and hopefully we’ll get him back next week.”
The Rangers also have lost two midfielders to injury in senior Gavin Middendorf and junior Marco Valente, and junior James Oberholtzer also has missed several contests.
“We have three captains, and they haven’t been on the pitch together once,” Coach Tomas said.
It all adds up to an 0-5 start in which the Rangers have been outscored 25-1.
“We’ve been struggling to start the season,” Anderson said. “It’s been hard. We’ve lost some games where we didn’t feel very good, and with the guys who have gotten hurt, it’s been hard to keep our heads up.
“But the coaches have been good at motivating the players. So we’re trying our best to get through it.”
Tomas hopes that first goal might light a spark in his team moving forward.
“Just to get a goal – I still have chills,” he said. “It was a smoker from distance that Braden struck well. It is a lesson that, if you shoot the ball, anything can happen.
“I still believe that, if we get the right 11 players on the field in right positions, we will be dangerous in sections.”