2012 record: 6-9-1
By PATRICK SLACK
For a handful of years, the Little Falls boys soccer team didn’t need to worry about where the bulk of its offense would come from.
The Flyers possessed potent striker Grant Bell, who scored 112 goals on his way to becoming the state’s all-time leader.
That changed last fall, as the departed Division I recruit left Little Falls with a gaping chasm in its attack.
With no one player obviously going to be capable of plugging the hole alone, the Flyers turned to a pair of newcomers, at least at the varsity level, on the offensive end.
Tim Infinger, who had played soccer throughout elementary before switching to football, made the transition back to the sport as a forward, while Thomas Bell slid up from defense to midfield.
Together, the duo shouldered the bulk of the scoring load for a team that went 6-9-1.
“It was rough at first,” Infinger said. “My touches weren’t as good as I wanted them. But by the end of the season I got the hang of it.”
Also helping Infinger overcome any early glitches was his sprinter’s speed which presents match-up headaches for opponents.
“I think that’s my number one factor,” Infinger said. “That’s how I score almost all of my goals.”
After spending a year on defense behind his older brother Grant, Thomas Bell accepted a much larger leadership role for the Flyers, by words and actions.
“I kind of felt like I needed to lead, part with scoring and getting everyone excited for the games,” Thomas said. “I felt like I needed to step up.”
In addition to helping the team’s offense, the position change was greeted happily by Thomas, as it was a return to normalcy from where he played growing up.
“It’s more natural playing midfield than defense,” Thomas said. “I really wanted to play midfield. I had always played behind Grant as a defensive midfield player, but now I get to push up which gives me a lot more opportunities to score.”
Looking ahead to this fall, the Flyers will lean heavily on this now-seasoned attacking duo to lead a roster that will have to replace a deep defensive line from a year ago, one that included All-State honorable mention recipient Kyle Gapinski.
“We will have to put together an entire defensive line again this year, including keeper,” head coach Julie Bell said. “It will take some time for the group to gel, but I expect quick progress. We also have some very solid returning athletes and expect them to lead the team.”
Senior Jake Loukinen, junior Connor Jorgensen and sophomore Riley Loukinen return with starting experience alongside Bell in the midfield, with senior Blake Toso and junior Nate Infinger coming back as starters on defense.
New athletes expected to solidify the roster are seniors Tucker Brastad (midfield) and Noah Eliason (defense/keeper), juniors Jordan Krueger (defense), Aaron Orth (defense) and Sam Beam (attacker) and freshman Michael Hanowski (keeper).
“I still think we should be good,” Thomas said. “I started out thinking that we might not do so well, but we’ve been practicing well, we’ve been getting a lot better, we have some new guys coming up and it should be a fun season.”
Little Falls was scheduled to open its season at home against Bemidji, Friday.
The Flyers are hosting a Coaches versus Cancer event at Monday’s home match against Hillcrest Academy-Pelican Rapids, with the girls playing beforehand. Fans are invited to take in a soccer match while supporting charity, with proceeds and donations from the event going to the American Cancer Society.