Sixteen teams are set to compete in the adapted soccer state tournament on Friday and Saturday at Stillwater High School. They compete in two divisions — cognitively impaired (CI) and physically impaired (PI) — with eight teams in each bracket. Here’s a look at some contenders in each division:
Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka: George W. Bush was still in office the last time a team other than the Robins were champions of the PI division. The Robins’ dynasty includes seven consecutive state championships.
But the Robins graduated several key players from last year’s team and haven’t been invincible this year. They finished the regular season 6-2.
“We expected to come back to the pack this year,” coach Marcus Onsum said, “but we came up with a brand new goalkeeper this year, Vincent Luu … and he has been absolutely lights-out.”
Luu, an Armstrong freshman, touts a 1.03 goals-against average and has saved 95.4 percent of the 174 shots he’s faced.
Anoka-Hennepin: The team given the best chance to dethrone the Robins are the Mustangs. Anoka-Hennepin finished the regular season undefeated and beat the Robins by a goal in both of their regular-season matchups.
Twelfth-year coach Sue Opat calls this year’s squad the deepest team she’s coached.
“We have people that can come off the bench and give some really good quality minutes,” Opat said. “Whenever you play against Robbinsdale, it’s a super-fast game and, if you don’t have people that can came come in and help you, you’re pretty much sunk.”
Minneapolis Roosevelt: The undefeated Teddies are seeking their first state title. They stormed through the regular season averaging nearly 16 goals per game. They are led by junior forwards Allen Chalmers and Elijah Jackson.
“That’s my one-two punch,” coach Michael Wright said. “They’re the players that have brought us this far. They can score and they can come help back on defense.”
South Washington County: The Thunderbolts enter the tournament as the defending champions. They went 7-2 in the regular season and dropped their only game against the Teddies 7-5. Their other loss was a forfeit because of transportation issues.
The Thunderbolts are led by senior goalkeeper Marcus Hathaway, who was key in net for last year’s championship team.
“He’s fearless,” said coach John Culbertson of Hathaway. “He controls the game back there. The kids know if they make a mistake back there he will bail them out nine out of 10 times.”