The high school soccer state tournament resumes Monday with six semifinal games at the Metrodome. The day begins with Class 1A girls' matches in the morning, then Class 1A and 2A boys' matches in the afternoon and evening. The 2A girls play their semifinals on Tuesday. Some notes and observations:
Benilde seeks revenge
Some might see an 8 a.m. Monday start time as a questionable reward for winning a double-overtime quarterfinal match. Benilde-St. Margaret's see it as just another step down the road of second chances.
The Red Knights don't often lose. The only blemish on their 19-0-1 record this season came in a tie against Blake back in August. That same Blake squad gave the Red Knights their only loss last year in the Class 1A championship match.
Benilde wants revenge. To have a chance at it, the Red Knights have to get past South St. Paul. They can't afford to overlook the Packers, who edged Kasson-Mantorville in a tight quarterfinal Friday. South St. Paul hasn't given up a goal since the postseason began.
Heart attack kids?
The Totino-Grace girls' team survived a 100-minute, eight-round shootout against Cloquet in the state quarterfinals, leaving Eagles coach Matt Thibodeau's blood pressure off the charts.
"Heart attack," Thibodeau said.
The Eagles played poised, up-tempo soccer for nearly the entire match. Thibodeau believed his team did everything right, except put the ball in the net.
"We were doing the right things,'' Thibodeau said. "We just felt unlucky."
Totino-Grace hopes some luck comes its way for Monday's matchup against high-powered Blake, the defending state champion. The Bears are fresh off a 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Alexandria in which they dominated in every facet of the game.
Keep an eye out for Blake junior Lydia Sutton, a speedy, gritty forward with a cannonading shot. Sutton has scored 13 goals this season, including two against Alexandria on Thursday.
Lourdes-Duluth Marshall rematch
Rochester Lourdes is eager to take advantage of what it calls an opportunity. The Eagles' shot at a state title in last year's Class 1A boys' tournament ended when it lost to Prairie Seeds Academy in overtime. This year's quarterfinal brackets offered a possible rematch -- until Prairie Seeds was disqualified last week because it used an eligible player this season.
The Eagles (20-1), who defeated Mankato East 4-0 in the quarterfinals, face Duluth Marshall (10-5-4) for a berth in the state championship game on Thursday.
"We do have that opportunity," Lourdes coach Tom Kane said. "I'd be lying if I didn't say it's set up. We just have to take advantage of it."
The one blemish on the Eagles' record came in a loss to Duluth Marshall in their second game of the season in Duluth.
The Eagles played that game without senior defender Karl Krecke, who broke his leg competing in the USA Cup over the summer. With Krecke back in the lineup for the playoffs, Kane is confident the Hilltoppers will have a much tougher time scoring this time around.
Unsure whether last Friday's match with Prairie Seeds might be played because of a Lycans appeal in court, the Hilltoppers made the 2 1/2-hour bus ride to the quarterfinal site in Roseville. When word came that the disqualification had been upheld, the team reboarded the bus and headed back to Duluth.
Blaine sophomore midfielder T.J. Soehn plays soccer with wisdom beyond his years, thanks to some high-level instruction in the house.
His father, Tom, has been involved in Major League Soccer since its inception in 1996. A former player and coach, the elder Soehn currently works as director of soccer operations for the Vancouver Whitecaps.
"Most of his job is scouting so he can scout players from here," T.J. said. "He's on the phone a lot."
Traveling to Vancouver every couple of weeks makes Tom Soehn often available for his son's games, including Blaine's 2-1 upset of previously undefeated Champlin Park in last week's Class 2A state quarterfinals.
Blaine advanced to play Bloomington Jefferson at 4 p.m. Monday at the Metrodome.
"He's the one who tells me what I'm doing wrong," T.J. said. "His input is ... I can't put a price on it."
Blaine coach Berry Arrowsmith also hopes to harvest some of Tom Soehn's soccer acumen.
"That's absolutely my plan after this season is over -- to see what we can do to build our program even more," Arrowsmith said.
DAVID LA VAQUE
Future Gophers meet up
When White Bear Lake and Lakeville North meet Tuesday at the Metrodome for their 2A girls' semifinal matchup, the two metro powers will have a lot in common.
They have identical 17-1-2 records and won their respective conference championships. Lakeville North took the South Suburban and White Bear prevailed in the Suburban East. Neither team has given up a goal through four playoff games.
Then there's this: Both teams are led by dominant All-Metro players who will be teammates next fall.
Lakeville North's Simone Kolander and White Bear Lake's Tarah Hobbs have both committed to the Gophers.
Kolander is one of the state's best forwards and the Star Tribune's 2011 Metro Player of the Year. She has 21 goals on the season, including the deciding tally in last Wednesday's 2-0 quarterfinal victory over Eden Prairie.
Hobbs backstops the Bears defense as the metro's best goalkeeper. She has 13 shutouts on the season, the last of which came in an impressive nine-save performance in the quarterfinals against Eastview.
The St. Paul Como Park boys' team's first trip to the state tournament included an extra surprise. Cougars coach Eric Erickson was honored as Class 1A Coach of the Year at the state tournament banquet.
Erickson guided the team to a 19-2 record, a St. Paul City Conference championship and a Section 4 championship before losing 2-1 to St. Cloud Cathedral in the quarterfinals last week.