Upstarts. Upsets. Undefeated teams.
Soccer section playoffs already contain these elements. Class 2A championship games on Tuesday raise the stakes for 16 boys’ teams and 16 girls’ teams. Here’s a closer look at the matchups.
So far this season, the Edina boys’ and Champlin Park girls’ have no idea what it’s like to walk off the field after a loss. The Hornets (18-0) and Rebels (16-0-1) have maintained their high level of play throughout every game. One more and they go to the state tournament, a place Champlin Park has never been. They headline the No. 1 seeds still alive in all eight sections on the girls’ side and six of the eight sections among boys’ teams.
Other favorites haven’t been so fortunate. Underdog New Prague, the No. 6 seed in Section 1, is within one victory of its first girls’ soccer state tournament appearance. Next up is section top seed Lakeville South, which defeated New Prague 6-0 on Oct. 2. The favored Cougars have given up five goals all season, zero in the past four games.
More chaos exists in the boys’ brackets, where Lakeville South (No. 4 seed, Section 1), Mounds View (No. 5 seed, Section 5) and Hopkins (No. 6 seed, Section 6) all find themselves playing much longer than expected. Hopkins (4-11-3) hasn’t been to state since 1984.
Let’s play 2 (or more)
Rematches exist in 12 of the combined 16 section final games. The Section 2 finals feature the fifth and sixth meetings this season involving teams named Edina and Minnetonka. The Edina girls split the first two games with defending champion Minnetonka while the Edina boys are 2-0 against the Skippers. But here’s where the girls’ side gets weird: The teams are tied for No. 6 in the coaches association rankings.
The Centennial and Maple Grove girls’ programs might have met for a fifth consecutive postseason but both teams have moved from Section 5. Both are the No. 2 seeds in their new sections, Section 7 for Centennial and Section 8 for the Crimson. When it comes to postseason meetings, there is history in Section 8, where Maple Grove has defeated the Brainerd boys in the semifinals the past two years. On the girls’ side, Edina and Minnetonka have split their past two playoff showdowns. But the girls’ programs from East Ridge and Stillwater have them beat when it comes to playoff familiarity. This is their fourth consecutive winner-take-all Section 4 playoff game.
Mr./Ms. Soccer finalists
All but one of the finalists for soccer’s top senior awards began this week with his or her team still in the state tournament hunt.
Class 1A girls: Frida Fortier, Benilde-St. Margaret’s; Abi Frandsen, Monticello; Clare Gagne, Orono; Katherine Jones, Visitation, and Kaitlyn MacBean, Breck.
Class 1A boys: Silas Hess, Bemidji; Jacob Keller, Monticello; Steevenson Lamarre, Totino-Grace; Will Mortenson, Blake, and Conor O’Rourke, Holy Angels.
Class 2A girls: Sophia Boman, Edina; Ella Endo, Washburn; Kaitlyn Hanson, Lakeville South; Kelsey Kallio, Andover and Paige Peltier, Cretin-Derham Hall.
Class 2A boys: Demetrius Bernardy-Nelson, Centennial; Brennan Featherstone, East Ridge; Darley Florvil, Washburn; Jacob Salmon, Eastview and Will Swanda, Edina.
Class 1A roundup
Most of the top teams in Class 1A play Tuesday in section semifinal games. Unbeaten Holy Angels (16-0-1) play the boys from St. Paul Humboldt. No. 2 Breck faces Totino-Grace and No. 4 Orono sees Holy Family. Top-ranked and defending girls’ champion Mahtomedi and No. 2 Hill-Murray remain on a collision course to play for the Section 4 crown. The same scenario exists in Section 3, where No. 3 Visitation and No. 4 Holy Angels could meet in the finals.