For the first time since 1991, Blaine girls’ soccer is in the state semifinals after Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Northwest Suburban Conference foe and No. 3 seed Centennial (15-2-1) in the Class AA State quarterfinals played at St. Cloud State University.
Blaine (14-4-1) went away from its high-tempo offensive approach, which worked well during the regular season and sections, in favor of a conservative or defensive style of play in hopes of containing Ms. Soccer Award winner Jenna Roering, who collected 50 points (34 goals) in 18 games this year.
Bengals sophomore Britney Monteon played a huge role in both goals, scoring 35 minutes into the game on a 15-yard shot from near the corner of the penalty box. Abbey Wohlers set up the scoring shot when she collected the ball near the middle of the field and drew the Cougars defense to open space for Monteon.
Blaine doubled its score in the 65th minute when Taylor Greathouse scored on a corner kick, set up by Monteon.
Bengals coach Scott Zachmann learned an important lesson from the first meeting with Centennial. “[Roering] scored twice against us two weeks ago, but tonight they shut her completely down and played great team defense,” he said. “We attacked with [Monteon] and everyone else behind the ball. We kept the ball wide and attacked with some patience.”
The change in tactics came from the importance of the win-or-go-home-format tournament and it also gave the team something else to focus on heading into state. “Defensively we weren’t very successful this season, but we scored a ton so we didn’t worry about it much,” Zachmann said.
Facing a familiar team seemed to help the Bengals, who were paired with the Cougars by a random draw. “It allowed us to prepare for the game differently and watch the game from two weeks ago,” he said. “It was the best thing for us because we were motivated and knew we had to shutdown their best player.”
Centennial put the pressure on late with multiple corner kicks. Glancing shots off the set-piece narrowly missed the goal to preserve the lead for Blaine.
Zachmann has a great record with two state tournament appearances in as many seasons as head coach for Blaine. He attributes the turnaround to part talent, part mentality.
“When we took over the program it was more if we win and last year we worked to change that to we win,” he said. “We have really good kids who are fast, strong and willing to play physical soccer. They’re coachable and listen to what we have to say. They’re self-motivated and have that confidence and swagger right now.”
Blaine faces No. 2 seed Wayzata at 2 p.m. Oct. 30 at Metrodome. The Trojans (14-2-2) shutout St. Michael-Albertville 6-0. Lakeville North and White Bear Lake face off in the other semifinal at noon Tuesday.