The Class 1A soccer semifinal matches are set for Wednesday at Husky Stadium at St. Cloud State. A new boys’ champion is assured while Orono is back to defend its girls’ championship. Title games will be played Thursday.
Here is a look at the semifinal matchups:
CLASS 1A GIRLS' SEMIFINALS
BENILDE-ST. MARGARET’S (18-1-1) vs. PRINCETON (19-2), 9 A.M.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s at a glance: The Red Knights, ranked No. 1, have shut out opponents in eight consecutive games, an impressive string of strong defense.
Princeton at a glance: The Tigers pulled the lone quarterfinal upset, edging Holy Angels on penalty kicks in a shootout for their program’s first state tournament victory. Goalkeeper Eden Betzler made the clinching save.
Key to watch: Benilde-St. Margaret’s, led by Class 1A Ms. Soccer winner Aleksa Tataryn, scored three or more goals in seven of its past eight games. An early deficit spells trouble for Princeton.
DAVID LA VAQUE
MAHTOMEDI (15-4) VS. ORONO (18-2), 11 A.M.
Mahtomedi at a glance: Coach Dave Wald expects a lot from their “engine” — senior forwards Karleen Yapello and Michelle Austin and junior forward Mara Yapello. Austin scored the lone goal in the 1-0 overtime quarterfinal win over St. Peter.
Orono at a glance: The defending champs have 15 consecutive victories since a 1-0 loss at Benilde-St. Margaret’s in early September.
Key to watch: The Spartans’ focus lately has been the game’s first 10 minutes. The Zephyrs will need to contain that offense, and try to score against a team that has given up just seven goals all season.
CLASS 1A BOYS' SEMIFINALS
ST. THOMAS ACADEMY VS. BRECK, 3 P.M.
St. Thomas Academy at glance: Mark Bastiaens led the way with 12 goals for the Cadets, while Grant Dumler had a team-high 17 assists. Fourteen players notched regular-season goals for the balanced St. Thomas Academy attack.
Breck at a glance: Avi Eller, with two goals in Breck’s quarterfinal victory over Sartell-St. Stephen, is one to watch. He had 13 regular-season goals and another in the section tournament. The Mustangs outscored opponents 15-3 in section play.
Key to watch: St. Thomas Academy held high-scoring Rochester Lourdes to one goal last game. Can the Cadets’ defense keep Eller in check?
ORONO (20-1) vs. FARIBAULT (15-5), 5 P.M.
Orono at a glance: The Spartans unseated defending champion St. Paul Como Park with a 2-1 overtime victory. Alex Kill tied the score with his team-best fifth playoff goal.
Faribault at a glance: The Falcons have won two playoff games in overtime and went to penalty kicks before upsetting Hermantown in the state quarterfinals. Faribault trailed 2-0 at halftime against the previously unbeaten Hawks.
Key to watch: Neither team scares easy. But in playoff soccer, the first goal can end up being the only goal. Will it be more-seasoned Orono or a Falcons team brimming with confidence?
DAVID LA VAQUE