It's hard to tell who's who on the North St. Paul soccer field. Two similar body types with the same last name befuddle opponents.
This is how juniors Justin Oliver and Tyler Oliver prefer it. The identical twin brothers proudly share everything in life: their looks, a room and even their ability to score goals and assist on them.
Mirroring each other's skills on the field has been the brothers' secret to success. So much so that when it comes to awards, neither can accept without crediting to the other.
Named as the Star Tribune boys' soccer Metro Player of the Year, Justin Oliver said: "Tyler could easily be in my place right now. I don't know what separated us. Everything that happened to me was 'cause of Tyler."
North St. Paul coach Casey Holm knows the difference.
All throughout the summer, whether he realized it or not, Justin was slowly separating himself from his brother. The older of the two twins would arrive 30 minutes early to summer workouts, using the extra time to practice shooting with Holm.
He finished the season with a team-high 33 goals and assisted on 15, while Tyler netted 22 and assisted on 25.
"That's the one thing, which [Justin] would probably kill me for saying it," Holm said. "That separated him a little bit."
Tyler recognized his brother's edge this season. Though he was responsible for the majority of assists setting up Justin's goals, Tyler admitted his brother rightfully earned the priority to be the team's leading scorer.
"It's perfect," Tyler said about their ability to benefit one another on the field. "[Justin] doesn't really say too much about himself. But I'm so happy for him."
The duo's willingness to give and take shone in the team's biggest win of the season against Eastview. The game's only goal was a result of Tyler being fouled and Justin converting the penalty kick for the eventual 1-0 victory against the 2012 Class 2A runner-up.
The win helped the program reach new heights. The Polars improved to 15-0 and moved to seventh in the National Soccer Coaches Association of America's rankings.
North St. Paul maintained the ranking -- the best in the program's history -- before its only slip-up of the season. A 2-0 loss to East Ridge in the section semifinals ended the Polars' season. It also was the only game of the season in which Justin did not score.
"We started winning by a lot early," Justin said. "Things were going good, and then sections happened."
But senior year still lies ahead for the twins. Their mother hopes that there can be two Mr. Soccer winners next time.
Holm chuckled at the idea but didn't discount it. He knows the importance of Justin and his twin.
"I've never seen anything like it. It's fantastic," Holm said about the way the brothers play together. "Individually, they're great. And together, it's crazy."
Jason Gonzalez • 612-673-4494