Although the Forest Lake soccer girls were unable to extend their season to the state tournament this fall, they already made the record books with a 9-8-1 mark.
The winning record is the program’s first in more than 10 years, although the exact timespan is questionable due to a lack of records. The Rangers this season also recorded the program’s first section win since 2008, when Forest Lake defeated Eveleth-Gilbert in the first round, 6-0.
In Suburban East Conference play, the Rangers defeated Hastings and Roseville and tied Stillwater.
On Thursday, Oct. 10, the second-seeded Rangers shut out seventh-seeded Cambridge-Isanti at home, 2-0, off goals by seniors Ari Tyler and Lara Steinhoff.
“The girls came out strong,” co-head coach Amanda Hansen said. “We had beaten them earlier in the year so we didn’t want that to go to our heads, but we pulled out the win.”
With the victory, Forest Lake moved on to face third-seeded Andover, again with a home-field advantage, but fell to the Huskies in a heartbreaker, 2-1. Sophomore Megan Storkan scored the lone goal for Forest Lake.
Hansen said her girls were aware of noise caused by coaches on the opposing bench, but she was happy with how the Rangers handled it.
“They heard what was being said, but weren’t distracted — if anything it fueled our girls’ fire and made them want to win even more,” Hansen said. “Andover has a strong team though, and our girls played great. It just didn’t happen for us that day.”
The Huskies went on to upset top-seeded Coon Rapids and will face an undefeated No. 1 Burnsville team (Class AA) in the first round of the state tournament.
As for the Rangers, the squad will graduate seven seniors: Tyler, Steinhoff, Savannah Swanson, Loren Kempenich, Emma Mattheisen, Hayley Mample and Emily Paulson.
Co-head coach Rich Elliot said all seven seniors played a key role in this season’s success.
“We just had a lot of drive in this group,” Elliot said. “I think before this year we never really believed we could go that far even though we have had some outstanding players. But the whole team was fueled, and I think that had to do with the senior leadership — they were the driving force behind that.”
Overall, Hansen agreed that this season was a step in the right direction for Forest Lake girls soccer.
“I’m happy we were competitive in the conference and section, I think we were successful there,” Hansen said. “As long as the girls are having fun and playing together as one team, and I like to think they are, then that is what matters.”