Ponies, Wolfpack stop Raiders
For two games two weeks ago, the Hastings Raiders boys soccer team got to walk off the field with wins. Since then, the Raiders have faced two of the state's top 10 teams, and one longtime nemesis.
Three tough losses.
First, the Raiders had their win streak snapped by Woodbury with a 4-0 loss on Sept. 21. Woodbury is ranked No. 7.
On Friday, Hastings played host to the state's No. 6 ranked team from Stillwater, and the Ponies won, 6-0.
Then, on Tuesday, Hastings lost to Park of Cottage Grove, 6-0.
Hastings plays at the Metrodome tonight (Thursday) against Cretin-Derham Hall.
Hastings plays host to East Ridge at 5 p.m. Oct. 5 and is at White Bear Lake Oct. 7 to close out the regular season.
One non-conference game has been added for the end of the regular season. It will be Oct. 9 against Bloomington Kennedy.
Despite the 5-0 loss to Stillwater, Hastings coach Shane Lanning was pleased with several aspects of the game on Friday.
"It wasn't the best outcome, but it wasn't as bad as it could have been, considering the caliber of team we were playing," Lanning said. "We gave a couple new guys an opportunity to play as well, and (goalkeeper) Dan Green wasn't able to be there. That gave our sophomore goalkeeper a chance to jump in."
Ian Johnson stepped in at goal and had quite a test, facing 17 shots.
"He did about as good as he possibly could have done," Lanning said.
Lanning was happy with the transitional play that his team implemented.
"One of the real positives I saw was our transitional play -- getting from the ball from the back to the midfield to our forwards," Lanning said. " That is finally coming around. That's something we've really worked on. We want to get the ball up front so we can get some opportunities to score."
While Hastings worked on that, Stillwater was excelling at counter attacking, Lanning said.
"They were really good at that, and even quicker in that transitional play," he said. "When they stole it from the midfield, immediately they had a couple forwards running on to it. They got the ball forward. They had their offense very involved in everything they were doing.
"They're not a very defensive team. They're a very offensive team. I would like to model our team, for years to come, after that Stillwater team. We have a lot of respect for them."
Another area that Hastings is working on is off the ball movement. Lanning asked his team at halftime what they thought of Stillwater, and their responses didn't surprise him. The Ponies' off-the-ball movement was highlighted during halftime, and Hastings worked on that in the second half.
"Even though Stillwater scored more goals in the second half, I think we actually played better in the second half," Lanning said.
Lanning said senior Jake O'Brien had a strong game for the Raiders. He was the lone forward in a 4-5-1 formation that Hastings played.
"That formation makes it difficult for forwards," Lanning said. "You have one point player up front. A lot of times, Jake would get the ball and look up and see it was one against four, but he stepped into the role and made it into an offensive formation.
"We got the ball to him, he made some turns and had some good passes. He got three or four shots on goal and had a nice little breakaway."
Fellow senior Jacob Niemann also had a strong game, Lanning said.
"He really controls the center quite well," Lanning said. "He commands the ship in the midfield. He was making some really good plays, getting the ball to Jake (O'Brien) and to our outside midfielders."
Sophomore defenseman Alex Lewanski also had a strong game, Lanning said.
"He had a lot of work to do back there," Lanning said. "He was overpowered by all the talent Stillwater had out there, but he really did a very good job of minimizing the damage that could have been there."
Jack Matecki, a senior captain, injured his foot in the game and saw limited action because of the injury.