Nicholas Boxrucker battles with Lakeland midfielder Tyler Tharman as each tries to take possession of the ball during last week’s GNC matchup.
Nicholas Boxrucker battles with Lakeland midfielder Tyler Tharman as each tries to take possession of the ball during last week’s GNC matchup.
The Northland Pines Boys Soccer team was back on the pitch Tuesday last night with a tough back-and-forth conference match-up with neighboring Lakeland who they’d play to eventual 1-1 draw. For Great Northern Conference standings purposes, the game went to a shootout where Lakeland prevailed, 4-3.

Knotted at 0-0 until midway through the first, Lakeland was the recipient of a penalty called against Pines at the 21st minute when a Pines midfielder dropped his shoulder into a Lakeland player who was standing in the penalty area of the the box. This resulted in a penalty kick for Lakeland which was perfectly placed into the lower left corner of the net as the T-Birds took a 1-0 lead.

“I take some responsibility for that penalty, as the coaches knew he was tired but were trying to teach these boys they have more in the tank, they just have to push through the mental fatigue,” said Sternhagen.

Pines responded quickly to the goal when five minutes later Zach Ritter made a crafty shot on the net, off a direct kick from nearly 40 meters away.

The ball flew over the head of Lakeland goalie Carter Quade and just over his hands, dipping under the far left crossbar for a beautiful goal tying the game at 1-1 for the rest of the night.

Sternhagen said the second half was a fairly equal match with Lakeland showing possession dominance in the midfield but they were unable to break through the Pines defense.

Pines made a good run late in the second half but failed to find quality shots. The game ended in a 1-1 tie but went to a shootout to determine conference standing.

Ryan Muench started the shootout and buried the kick forcing Lakeland to chase Pines. Lakeland answered with a score of their own on the first shot before Cody Vojta then stepped up and drilled the ball into the net again, putting the pressure back on Lakeland.

The T-Birds followed suit leading to Pines junior Zach Ritter who beat Quade initially only to have his shot sail the ball just over the crossbar. Lakeland took advantage of the opportunity and put one past Pines goalie Eric Nagel to take the lead and reverse the advantage placing the pressure to score on Pines.

AJ Muench shot the fourth ball hard into the net, after which Lakeland then stepped up to take their fourth shot, also pounding it into the back of the net to keep the lead by one.

Cameron Birchbauer came up next needing to score to keep Pines alive. He also faked out Quade, but sailed the ball over the net resulting in a 3-4 shootout victory for Lakeland and an advantage over Pines in the conference.

“I hope the boys learned a lesson and can build on this when we are in this situation in the future when it could be the difference between us moving on or going home late in the season,” said Sternhagen.

Pines will not have to wait long to get another shot at Lakeland as they travel to Minocqua in three weeks for a rematch under the lights, Oct. 6.

The Eagles were also scheduled to play Medford at home in Eagle River on Thursday, September 15th. The game was postponed due to lack of officials.

The Eagles travel to Kingsford, Sept. 20th and then return home on Thursday, Sept. 22 for a conference game against Mosinee. Game time is set for 4:30 p.m.

Pines will also host Somerset and Washburn in a triangular, set for Saturday beginning at 11 a.m.