The Prior Lake boys soccer team should again be a factor in the South Suburban Conference and in Section 2AAA.
The Lakers struggled last fall to a 3-11-2 record overall (1-7-1 in league play), losing 10 times by shutout. Prior Lake lost in an overtime shootout in the section quarterfinals to Eden Prairie.
The game was tied 1-1 after regulation and the two overtime periods before the Eagles won the shootout 4-3.
Senior captains Alex Carlson, Luke Dahlen and Andrew Gatti return this season for the Lakers, along with seniors Firaool Giro, Farah Goud, Sam Kohler and goalie Rylan Mathison.
Juniors Ethan Andryski, Elian Cuellar and Spencer Ford are also back.
“Our hopes are goals are centered around the experience right now,” Prior Lake coach Mike Shebuski said. “We want to develop a style of play that can help this group be successful. We want to enjoy being out there with each other and we want to compete at the highest level possible every day.”
Prior Lake scored just 14 goals in 16 games last fall and that team graduated 11 seniors.
The three wins were also the fewest for the program since it joined the top soccer class in 2003. Prior Lake went 4-12 overall (3-6 in the SSC) in the COVID-19 season in 2020, where there was no state tournament.
Prior Lake has posted double-digit victories in six of the last 10 years and has had a winning record in eight of the last 13 seasons, so don’t be surprised if the Lakers are again contenders come playoff time.
In 2017, Prior Lake beat Chanhassen in the Section 2AA final to earn the program’s first-ever state berth as a Class 2A program. The Lakers’ other state berth came in 2000 in Class A.
Soccer went to three classes last fall.
Meanwhile, seniors Devin Chant, Zach Hammerschmidt, Liam McVety, Hanad Omar and Ben Pascanik will try to make impact on the varsity this fall, along with juniors Collier Hulett and Noah Meschke and sophomores Edgar Castillo and Carter DuBore.
Shebuski said the energy and effort were evident in the first week of practice.
“This group doesn’t just want to go out and compete; they want to be a part of something and they’re looking to learn and get better every day,” Shebuski said. “So our strength right now is the leadership, approach and attitude of our players. They’re great to be around and as coaches we are excited for the season.
“On the field, we have some experience returning,” Shebuski added. “We’ve seen players step up their leadership in a big way, and we have some new faces that will play key roles for us this year.”
Section 2AAA is very difficult with the likes of perennial powers Minnetonka, Edina and Eden Prairie, along with Shakopee, Chaska, Chanhassen and Waconia in the field.
Lakeville South is the defending SSC champion, while Rosemount was the state runner-up last year despite finishing seventh in the conference with a 3-5-1 mark. Lakeville North will also be a strong SSC team.
Prior Lake’s first SSC game is Sept. 7 at Rosemount. The Lakers’ first league contest at home isn’t until Sept. 20 against Burnsville.
The first round of Section 2AAA play starts Oct. 11. The semifinals are Oct. 13 with the title game Oct. 18. Edina is the defending champion.