When the Richfield boys' soccer team last competed in a state tournament, the Spartans won the 1975 championship four days before the Edmund Fitzgerald became much more than just another Great Lakes freighter.

The Spartans, the No. 5 seed in Class 2A, begin play at 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in the quarterfinal round against No. 4 Worthington at Farmington High School.

The feat becomes more remarkable considering Richfield wasn't ranked in the final coaches poll. And the roster of 21 seniors included only two returning starters.

"We had a special group last year," Spartans coach Mike Harris said. "We graduated 17 seniors, 10 of whom are college soccer players."

Current seniors spent two years on JV stuck behind the Class of 2022. The group made good use of their opportunity this season. Richfield (10-4-4) competed well in a Tri-Metro Conference that sent three teams to state tournaments. Three other teams finished in the top 10 in the final coaches poll.

Leading the Spartans are junior forward Antwane Ruiz (22 goals, 10 assists) and senior defender Angel Mendez-Lopez — a rare four-year starter. In the playoffs, senior forward Luis Sanchez got hot, burying goals in all three Section 3 games.

Seeing the varsity team make its long-awaited state tournament return energized the Richfield Soccer Association, the community-based program where players got their start.

And the good news is welcomed after two people were shot outside the homecoming football game in September at Richfield High School.

"It's nice to be able to celebrate our kids and the good they are doing," said Harris, the school's dean of students. "I've been here 30 years and I've been dreaming to take the community to the state tournament."

Tournament rookies roundup

Teams compete in the quarterfinal round Tuesday through Thursday, with winners advancing to the semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Joining the party for the first time are Class 1A boys' programs Maranatha Christian Academy and Legacy Christian, though the latter reached the tournament under its former name of Meadow Creek Christian. New girls' programs at the tournament are Mankato East and Winona (2A) as well as Providence Academy and St. Charles Public Schools (1A).

Statistically speaking

The girls' programs from Mankato East (19-0) and Class 3A entrant Wayzata (17-0-1), along with the Class 2A boys from Hill-Murray (19-0), are the only undefeated teams in any of six state tournament brackets. Unbeaten Hill-Murray has allowed just two goals this season. The state record is four.

Mr./Ms. Soccer winners

Just one of the six winners of Mr. or Ms. Soccer is in action this week, Mahtomedi forward Katelyn Beulke.

Returning champions

Beulke leads the Zephyrs' Class 2A state title defense. In Class 3A girls' soccer, Stillwater is back for another championship run. Southwest Christian (Class 1A boys) survived a brutal Section 6 field to earn another title shot.