Several tickets to the state soccer tournament were punched Tuesday night as area teams earned their spot in next week’s state tournament. Others weren’t as lucky as the season came to a crashing halt.
Blaine boys’ and girls’ won section titles while both Anoka squads lost in shoot outs. The Bengal boys topped Coon Rapids 6-2 at Bengals Stadium. The Bengal girls came back from an early deficit to beat Andover 4-2 to reach the state tournament.
Boys’ Section 8AA
Moorhead 1, Anoka 0 (SO)
For the third game in a row Anoka looked to penalty kicks to determine a winner. Unfortunately for the Tornadoes, the third time wasn’t a charm as Moorhead won the Section 8AA title by a 3-1 score in penalties after a scoreless regulation.
Anoka started the season 0-4, which included a 2-0 loss to Moorhead at Goodrich Field in Anoka to start the season.
The Tornadoes went 6-6-1 over the final 13 games of the season which ended in Anoka’s 19th section final under the direction coach Pete Hayes.
Hayes said his team was much different since the first meeting.
“We switched a few things around and found some different spots for some kids and we’re much better on defense now and defense wins championships,” he said.
That typically stout Anoka defense surrendered just one goal in three section games, but the offense struggled to find goals.
Junior forward Ryan Olek scored the lone penalty kick in the loss, while junior keeper Logan Vick kept the Tornadoes in the game with late saves.
The future of Anoka looks bright as it started nine underclassmen.
Boys Section 7AA
Blaine 6, Coon Rapids 2
Blaine coach Berry Arrowsmith said nothing was really different from the first meeting with Coon Rapids. “We just couldn’t score,” he said when Blaine lost 1-0, despite holding the edge in shots and a 12-2 lead in corner kicks.
Fast forward to Tuesday’s section final and the Bengals caught fire with a 6-2 win to return to state for the ninth time in 14 seasons.
Bengals senior forward Mitch Boege had two goals and an assist, while junior Jason Scheeler, senior Zach Wright and Ian Durbin each had one goal and one assist. Junior Asher Bates added a goal and senior keeper Tyler Carlson had 15 saves in the win.
Blaine led 2-0 at the half and Coon Rapids kept the score close until the final minutes when the Bengals made the Cardinals pay for pushing players forward.
“Every time we tried to dribble they were on us so we wanted to get the ball off our feet quickly,” Arrowsmith said. “I think we tired them toward the end of the game.”
The longtime Blaine coach was concerned about which Blaine team was going to show up against No. 2 seed Coon Rapids.
“The team has been doing fairly good,” Arrowsmith said. “But it depends on which team shows up for us, either the team that wants to score or the team that sits back and relaxes. We’ve had a couple close games and some absolute blowouts.”
Blaine shocked No. 10 ranked Eagan 6-0 and destroyed St. Francis 11-0 before falling to Coon Rapids on the following day earlier in the season.
Arrowsmith said the scoring has been a team effort as well. “It comes from everywhere,” he said. “It’s been really weird. Our central midfielder TJ Johnson scored two goals and our outside defender had three assists against Forest Lake.”
Blaine beat St. Francis 5-1 and Duluth East 3-1 to reach the section final.
Girls’ Section 8AA
STMA 1, Anoka 0 (SO)
Anoka came into its fifth consecutive section final outscoring the opposition 5-1 in the first two section games (4-1 win against Rogers and 1-0 win against Elk River), but that streak ended after seven rounds of penalty shots at St. Michael-Albertville Tuesday night.
The teams traded glancing shots off the crossbar, STMA hit it in the opening 15 minutes, while Anoka saved its crossbar shot for the final minutes of the second half. Neither team could find the back of the net in the scoreless play of regulation.
“St. Michael controlled play in the first half and we had the better [control] in the second half and overtime,” Anoka coach Paul Anderla said.
The Tornadoes graduate five seniors, meaning 13 players can return next fall in hopes of making a sixth straight appearance in the section finals and third state tourney showing in seven seasons.
Despite Anoka’s 7-10-1 record, Anderla chalked the season up as a success because of the way the team improved all season.
“We try to schedule some upper-level competition early in the season with the goal being come section time we learned from that, and this team really came around,” Anderla said.
Girls Section 7AA
Blaine 4, Andover 2
Andover came out with a vengeance in its first-ever section final to lead 2-0 less than four minutes into Tuesday’s game on goals from corner kicks by Raquel Theilen and Karlie Gehrig. Huskies coach Lori Snider said the plan was to press Blaine early for early goals and Andover could have had even more.
“We had three-four chances in the first 10 minutes and lost our intensity from there on out,” she said. “We worked on set pieces and really wanted to get the opening coin toss, which we did and the kick off led to the corner kick.
“It was hard to keep up that intensity level for the whole game.”
Andover came into the section final with plenty of confidence after a program record 14 wins, which came from a new and positive approach.
“For many years we just hoped to not lose badly but this year we felt that we were in every game and had a chance to win,” Snider said about her seventh season at Andover.
Andover led 2-1 at the half, but the momentum continued to swing toward the visitors from Blaine.
Bengals sophomore Britney Monteon scored twice including the game-tying goal.
Blaine goalie Alex Barber-Verdick came up with the save of the night or as Bengals coach Scott Zachmann put it, “I told the girls on the bus, it was the most brilliant save I’d seen in 17 years of coaching and changed the game.”
Barber-Verdick stretched out to her right to deflect a shot off the crossbar only to have it fall back to the shooter. Barber-Verdick gobbled-up the follow-up shot to frustrate the Huskies.
Two minutes later Blaine senior defender Ashley Pafko tied the game with a header from senior midfielder Karah Jolly.
Andover won the previous meeting 2-1 and was ranked among the state’s best.
“We knew it would be a battle,” Zachmann said. “We just didn’t adjust to the way they started and weren’t mentally prepared for it. Got to give them credit and the problem for us all year is that we give up goals.”
Blaine averaged a 4-2 score all season, but will have to find a way to shore up the defense against the state’s best.
Totino-Grace 3, Legacy Christian 0
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