Orono soccer readies for conference play

Orono mens soccer hosted DeLaSalle in their home opener on Aug. 28, where Head Coach Derek Engler returned for his sixth season with the Spartans varsity squad.

During his previous five years, Engler and the Spartans have a record of 68-21-9, with four conference championships, one section championship and one state championship, which was the first in the history of the program.

“We have a lot of talent and experience on the team this year,” Engler said of his 2017 Spartans. “Now we just need to learn how to play together as one and this season will be a success.”

Last season, DeLaSalle handed Orono one of their only ties and this night would prove to be no different.

Orono dominated a majority of the game and came out strong with smart, swift passing combinations by captains Spencer Overturf, Guy Mohs and Christian Babo. However, it was clear early that this would shape up to be a defensive and physical battle.

Midway through the first half, Mohs beat the goalie after receiving a pass from Liam LaBelle to make the score 1-0.

Sadly, LaBelle would exit the game soon after with a leg injury.

Momentum seemed to shift for a short time in the second half, when DeLaSalle took advantage of a breakaway and tied the score at 1-1, despite a diving effort from Spartan goalie Alex Danielson.

Key plays by senior Paul Sanford and sophomore Reece Clifford at midfield and Forward Chris Nordlie helped keep the pressure on DeLaSalle, while aggressive defense by Cole Wetterstrom, Kyle Sipprell, Kevin Cornelius and Jamie Bazil shut down the pressing DeLaSalle offense.

Late in the game, Orono had multiple scoring opportunities off corner kicks, but DeLaSalle’s defense and outstanding goalkeeping prevented Orono from capitalizing.

Mohs had a header and bicycle kick thwarted. Shots by Sam Bazil, Spencer Overturf and Babo were also denied.

The teams battled through two overtime periods and Orono nearly scored during a few scrambles in front of the goal, but came up short.

In the end, the match remained a draw at 1-1

Next, the Orono mens varsity squad hosted St. Cloud Cathedral on a beautiful fall-like day at the stadium.

Honoring the 11 traits of Jabob Wetterling, with his parents Patty and Jerry in attendance, the Orono starting line-up was announced – each representing one of the 11 traits: be fair, be kind, be understanding, be honest, be thankful, be a good sport, be a good friend, be joyful, be generous, be gentle and be positive.

Three days after losing junior striker Liam LaBelle with a broken foot in the match against DeLaSalle, the Spartans suffered another loss 12 seconds into the game, when senior defender Kyle Sipprell left via ambulance with a knee injury.

Senior captain Colin Sim has also been stuck supporting his team from the sideline, while recovering from an injury.

“It has been difficult to see really strong players join me on the bench, but new players will step up to fill the open spots which speaks to the depth of the program as a whole,” Sim said.

Despite the injury, the Spartans were able to refocus, restart, rally and log their second win of the season.

Typical hustle and heart from captain Christian Babo led to the Spartans first score, when he assisted Spencer Overturf 14 minutes into the game.

Soon thereafter, Babo would assist the second goal by senior Chris Nordlie who added the perfect finish to Babo’s set up.

Speedster Guy Mohs added another to make the score 3-0 going into the half.

It was Babo yet again assisting Mohs on a picturesque header in the upper right corner two minutes into the second half.

St. Cloud would get one of their own midway through play, but the Spartans responded when Spencer Overturf made a crafty move to beat the defender and set up Sam Bazil for the goal to make the score 5-1.

Next week, the Spartans will not only start classes, they will play two away conference matches against Hutchinson on Sep. 5 and Waconia on Sept. 7, and then host Benilde St. Margaret on Saturday Sept. 9.