ST. CLOUD – Orono boys' coach Derek Engler said he thought 2015 would be a rebuilding year for his team, after losing 14 seniors from last year's 14-4 squad.
His players proved him wrong, however, winning the school's first boys' soccer state championship Thursday with a 2-1 victory over Breck.
Senior Alex Kill scored the game-winner about four minutes into overtime, heading in a corner kick by Spencer Overturf. Guy Mohs also scored for the second-seeded Spartans (22-1).
Engler said his mind-set changed after a 2-0 season-opening victory over Maple Grove. The change was in large part due to his 12 seniors, he said, specifically captains Jonny Schmid, Ben Phelps and Kill and his brother, Evan, who tore an ACL in the first game.
"They did everything they could to will their teammates and show them what a championship team looks like," Engler said.
Kill said this year's group played better as a team than in past years.
He said the team drew motivation after the Orono girls' team lost its championship game in the morning to Benilde-St. Margaret's.
"We didn't want two teams to lose in the championship," he said, "so we had to do what we had to do."
Breck scored first when a shot by Eric Smits deflected past the Orono goalkeeper.
The Mustangs' loss ends what many thought would be a rebuilding year, too. Breck (14-5-4) also graduated 14 players, but coach George Stuempfig challenged his players to accomplish as much as they could this year.
"This team had something intangible that maybe teams in the past didn't quite have," Stuempfig said.