ST. CLOUD – Todd Springer, Anoka boys' soccer assistant coach, carried the team's horseshoe in his bag. Also for luck, he and head coach Pete Hayes donned gray shirts with from last season's state title run.
Those superstitious ploys worked Monday as Anoka defeated Minneapolis Washburn 2-1 in the Class 2A state tournament semifinals at Husky Stadium despite getting outshot by an almost 3-to-1 margin. The Tornadoes will play No. 2 seed East Ridge at 5 p.m. Thursday for the championship.
Two goals from senior forward Connor Schaaf, one in each half, built a 2-0 lead. Schaaf leads No. 4 seed Anoka (16-3-2) with 16 goals this season.
The second goal, Schaaf said "was a huge relief. We're way better when we're up, and that got our spirits going. I was just glad I could get it for us."
Washburn's Juan Louis scored with 10:07 to play. The Millers did everything but find the equalizer during what Schaaf called an "intense" period of the game. Washburn's final chance came on a 40-yard free kick into a scrum, but Tornadoes goalkeeper Jake Peterson snared the ball.
"I'm getting too old for this," Hayes joked.
Unseeded Washburn (12-5-3), which upset No. 1 seed Minnetonka in overtime of the quarterfinals, outshot Anoka 17-6 but got only six on frame. Many times the Millers possessed the ball with the red paint of the end zone under their feet but could not score.
"It was frustrating," Washburn coach Aaron Percy said. "We felt like we were there but couldn't quite get that tie."
In the championship game, Anoka will seek the program's third state title since 2007.
"We're back in the state championship," Schaaf said. "I'm ready to win on Thursday."