Every season there are teams as well as players who fly under the radar. This year is no exception.
Counting on seniors
All eyes are on the Burnsville football team to make great strides this fall, but keep an eye on another team — the girls’ soccer squad — at the school as well. Eagan and Lakeville North are the heavy favorites in the South Suburban Conference, but the senior-laden Blaze aren’t too far behind.
“Eagan and Lakeville North are both going to be really tough,” Burnsville coach John Soderholm said.
His group is coming off a 12-6-1 season, and has seven starters returning from that contingent. It dropped two 2-1 encounters to Class 2A state champion Eagan a year ago.
“There isn’t anybody who can convince me that there is a tougher conference in the state,” Soderholm said. “Our elite teams are so good.”
The top five teams in the 10-team conference had at least 12 victories last season.
“There are no nights off in our conference,” Soderholm said. “There are no easy teams.”
Soderholm’s 20-player squad will feature 15 seniors. Five of them are captains Erin Fugh, Emily Haberlack, Kayla Johnson, Ashley St. Aubin and Ellie Soderholm.
Burnsville’s past two state tournament appearances came in odd-numbered years, 2011 and 2013. Could that trend continue in 2015?
“To get to the section finals would be nice,” Soderholm said. “Once you get there, anything can happen.”
Two girls’ cross-country runners — freshmen Jasmyn Armstrong of Red Wing and Lauren Peterson of Farmington — could find themselves finishing in the Class 2A top 10 by season’s end.
“Lauren has been training hard all summer,” Farmington coach Heidi Revels said. “She is ready to show what she has this year.”
The key for them, like all girls’ cross-country runners this season, will be making the adjustment from 4 kilometers to 5,000 meters.
“I think the increased distance will help Lauren,” Revels said. “She has always been training at that level.”
Armstrong wound up 10th while Peterson finished 12th in last year’s state meet at St. Olaf College in Northfield. They both also competed in the event as seventh-graders.
“That first year was more to get a feel for it,” Revels said. “She was terrified. Lauren knows what to expect now.”