The Lakeville North girls’ soccer team has made more Class 2A state tournament appearances (five) than any other program since 2009. It’s looking for its fifth consecutive trip this season.

“Our own internal expectations are really high,” Panthers coach Jeremiah Johnson said. “The core of our team has played in the state tournament five of the last six years.”

That group has also finished in the top four in the past four years. They were second in 2013, third in 2012 and fourth in 2011 and 2014.

“We looked really strong so far,” Johnson said after the No. 3 Panthers shut out previously unbeaten No. 4 Burnsville 2-0 in a South Suburban Conference matchup of top-10 teams. “We’re not flashy or spectacular, it’s just solid soccer.”

Juniors Temi Carda and Lauren Witte netted the two Panther goals against Burnsville. It was Witte’s team-leading fourth of the season while Carda’s was her first of the year.

“Nobody really jumps out as our No. 1 scorer,” Johnson said. “We have three players with three or four goals.”

Where his squad does jump out is defensively. The Panthers have only allowed three goals in their first eight games, two coming against top-ranked Eagan.

“We have a solid back line,” Johnson said. “They are not only athletic, but are also super-smart players.”

Carda heads that back line along with seniors Hannah Cade and Stephanie Schaffer. Junior Taylor Lock is the goalkeeper.

“Our biggest challenge is to make sure our attackers have the same mentality as our defenders,” Johnson said. “We want to move forward as a unit.”

Top performances

• Senior midfielder Chase Wright scored four goals, leading Lakeville South past Eagan 5-3 in a South Suburban boys’ soccer matchup. He has 13 goals on the year, eight coming over a recent four-game span.

• Rosemount senior captains Brittany McLean and Erin Slinde both had a huge match in a 25-22, 26-24, 19-25, 25-18 victory over Shakopee in South Suburban volleyball action. McLean finished with 25 kills while Slinde had 10 kills, 23 set assists and 28 digs.

Quote

“Our team has great leadership, and is rising to the occasion when playing tough opponents.” — Eagan volleyball coach Kathy Gillen after her Class 3A, No. 6 Wildcats defeated No. 1 Lakeville South 25-21, 25-19, 25-19 in South Suburban play.

Ron Haggstrom