Samuel Gerten accepted his coach’s challenge and then exceeded it, scoring five goals Saturday to give the Dakota United Hawks a 5-2 victory over the St. Paul Humboldt Hawks in the adapted soccer PI Division state championship game at Stillwater High School.

The sophomore forward got the scoring started 7 minutes, 22 seconds into the game. He put Dakota United ahead for good with 8:39 left in the first half. He had two more goals in the next 4:37 to give Dakota United a 4-1 lead at halftime. He extended the lead to 5-1 with 12:53 left in the game.

“Sam is our playmaker,” Dakota United head coach Lorrie Buecksler said. “I usually set a goal for him. Today’s goal I said, ‘Let’s see how fast you can get three on the board. He said, ‘Wait, do you want me to pass or to shoot?’ I said, ‘Let’s just see how fast our team can get three on the board.’

“Right away he went into thinking mode and what he’s going to do to do it. He gets so zoned into the game. I don’t think I’ve had a kid that can be so much into a zone — in a good way.”

Without top defender Will Davidson, who missed the tournament because of an illness, Dakota United relied on Cooper Wilson, Eddie Nelson and Gabby Stahl to rotate through the sweeper position and keep the middle of the court clean.

Goalkeeper Blake Jackson kept the ball out of the net. Dakota United allowed just three goals in the three state tournament games.

“When [Jackson’s] in the net, I’m confident at all times,” Buecksler said. “I’m never nervous. I just know that Blake’s got it. He pounces on balls like a cat. He’s ready to drop his body down on the ground and do whatever it takes to cover that ball. With our wheelchair athletes in position, they are the first line of defense for Blake, but as soon as that ball is anywhere near him, he’s got it in his arms and wraps it up.”

Wilson picked up three assists in the first half and Fiona Sitzmann had one in the second for Dakota United.

Donte Willis scored at the 10:04 mark of the first half off an assist by Cory Feesl to tie the score at 1-1 for St. Paul Humboldt. Liban Farah scored with 29 seconds left in the game for St. Paul Humboldt.

In the CI Division championship game, the South Washington County Thunderbolts scored three unanswered goals to defeat the Chanhassen/Chaska/Prior Lake/Shakopee Southern Stars 3-1.

“It’s a good view on top right now,” Thunderbolts coach Bruce Fiedler said. “It’s been a progression. It’s not just something that has happened. It’s a progression of these players playing and learning together. It’s been a very good learning experience for them all.”

Nathan Castaneda got the scoring started for the Southern Stars 5:38 into the game.

Tyler Tinucci responded with his first of two goals 2:02 later. Brian Barcelon broke the 1-1 tie 4:52 into the second half.