Benilde-St. Margaret’s (17-3-1) vs. Blake (17-3-1), 10 a.m.
Round three: The defending champion Red Knights face Blake for the title for a third consecutive year. Blake won the first meeting in 2011 is on a mission. “Not coming out on top last year was a little devastating,” Blake senior Lydia Sutton said. “This year that’s something we’re really striving for. We want to carry it all the way to the end. I think we have a very good shot.”
Contrasting styles: The Red Knights averaged 5.47 goals per game during the regular season, winning with unrelenting offensive pressure. Fixate on Ms. Soccer Kelly Pannek (25 goals) and Jordan Maddaus (20) or Aleksa Tataryn (18) will make you pay. Pannek said if Red Knights “play how we did” in a 5-1 semifinal victory, “I don’t think we should have a problem.” Conversely, few opponents reached the Bears’ net this season. Blake allowed just nine goals this season and more than one in a game just once. Goalkeeper Robyn Lipschultz has been tough to beat. Early this season these teams played to a 1-1 draw.
DAVID La VAQUE
Hill-Murray (13-4-3) vs. St. Paul Como Park (18-0-3), 12:30 p.m.
Fresh faces: St. Paul Como Park, the tournament’s top seed, is making just its second tournament appearance and first trip to the finals. Before this year, Hill-Murray had not won a playoff game since 2007. The Pioneers’ lone championship game appearance came in 1983.
Bombs-away vs. the beautiful game: Hill-Murray’s approach has been the equivalent of a boxer looking for a first-round knockout. The Pioneers attack from the outset, looking for a quick goal, hoping to play with the lead and force their opponent out of its game-plan early. Como Park uses more artistic tactics, playing off the talents of its culturally diverse players and their affection for the nuances of the game. Leading scorer Will Kidd (21 goals, 11 assists) is often heavily marked but that leaves openings for fellow forwards Seik Seik and Abdikarin Diriye.