Mari Ferrer-Lugo, co-captain of the Minnetonka High girls soccer team, is a player who’ll line up any place coach Jeff Hopkins needs her.
After playing center midfield in the Skippers’ first four matches of the season, she switched to center back for an important non-conference match against the Eagan Wildcats on Labor Day weekend.
Ferrer-Lugo’s stellar play in the back led Minnetonka to a hard-fought 2-1 victory. Shots on goal for the game were 10-8 in Minnetonka’s favor, but late in the game Eagan applied tremendous pressure.
“We were kind of banged up in the back, so I asked Mari to give us some help,” said coach Hopkins. “She and our other senior co-captain, Anna Erickson, epitomize what leaders do. The talk about how to play the game and they show the other girls how to play the game.”
Erickson, Minnetonka’s leading scorer, netted her fourth goal of the season to give Minnetonka a 1-0 lead against Eagan, and then Catherine Moore scored to make it 2-0.
Eagan scored with 10 minutes remaining to make the score 2-1, and that’s when Ferrer-Lugo knew she had to step up her intensity.
“They sent everyone they had into our end,” she said. “There were more attackers than we had defenders, but we made it work. We had not beaten Eagan in two or three years, and it feels good that we finally did it.”
Coach Hopkins pointed to a play in the last minute that showed just how badly Ferrer-Lugo wanted this one.
“Eagan pressed the ball to the corner,” he said. “But Mari won the ball and cleared it.”
And that was the game.
The Skipper coaching staff selected Ferrer-Lugo as player of the game, which was no surprise to anyone who watched the match. Ferrer-Lugo was quick to the ball, making many good one-touch decisions.
Through the first five outings, the Skippers stood 4-1-0, with the only loss coming 1-0 against Eastview.
“Most of our kids are getting minutes every game,” said coach Hopkins. “We are building more depth all the time.”
Ferrer-Lugo is the one player who’s on the field most of the time. She doesn’t need much rest.
“I like playing tough teams like Eagan and Eastview,” she said. “That’s how we’re going to get better.”
What is it like to lead the Minnetonka team?
“It’s easy because the girls listen and know where to go on the field,” said Ferrer-Lugo.
In another recent non-conference test, the Skippers downed Chanhassen 2-1 in overtime. Erickson scored the game-winner on a pass from Riley Brackin.
Pointing to his team’s tough pre-conference schedule, coach Hopkins said, “When you play the best teams in the state, you find out where you stand. Tough games force a team to dig deep.”
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