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Joey Buytendorp and the Wolfpack are undefeated through four contests. (Submitted photo by Steve Rooker)

Park boys soccer: Wolfpack overcoming injuries

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sports Cottage Grove, 55016
Cottage Grove Minnesota 7584 80th Street South 55016

The soccer season just started, and Park boys head coach Jason Arnebeck is already tweaking his lineup in a wake of early injuries.

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But those injuries allowed Arnebeck to make a pivotal discovery -- his team is armed with versatility.

Park beat Rosemount 2-1 on Wednesday night thanks to a pair of timely goals and some strong goalkeeping.

“We have had to come together as a team and perform in different roles,” Arnebeck said. “But our team defending and goalkeeping was strong enough to preserve the win.”

The Wolfpack had a week off to regroup as school starts and will play East Ridge on Sept. 4. But as it stands, Park is 3-0-1 despite not having its best 11 on the field at the same time since the opener against Burnsville.

The Wolfpack played a strong first half – especially defensively – and limited the Irish to just one shot on goal. Rosemount, however, kept Park’s offense in check, too. And the teams went into halftime in a scoreless tie.

The Irish got the party started right away in the second half and parlayed a 2-on-1 break into the game’s first goal in the first minute.

Their lead didn’t last long, though.

A minute later, the Wolfpack tied the game on when senior midfielder Joey Buytendorp’s cross deflected off a Rosemount defender and into the net. Arnebeck said it was a stroke of good fortune. Either way, it was the equalizer.

Ten minutes later, senior attacker Noah Ijomah went down inside the 18 and was rewarded with a penalty kick.

Cash money.

The Wolfpack never looked back.

Rosemount shifted their midfielders forward down the stretch, but senior keeper JakeLopez wasn’t having any of it. He made 12 saves in the second half alone.

Arnebeck said his team was at its best in the opener against Burnsville when all of his players were healthy. But he’s satisfied with the way his team has adapted. Park is undefeated with three wins through four matches. The Wolfpack didn’t earn their third win last season until their 12th contest.

But Park’s flawless record will be put to the test against the Raptors -- a fellow unbeaten Suburban East club.

“When we resume matches next Thursday against East Ridge,” Arnebeck, “we hope to be healthy and back to full strength.”

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