Among the story lines coming into the season ranging from Blaine looking to return to state, Anoka breaking through to state and Andover repeating its second place finish in the Northwest Suburban Conference standings including a 13-win regular season.
Coming off a 13-1-2 regular season, Andover has high expectations for the new season under the direction of coach Lori Snider.
The Huskies opened the season at the Duluth East Invite, Aug. 23-24. The Greyhounds won a wild 5-4 game. Anna Rauzi and Callie Hoff each scored twice and Emma Spooner scored once for Duluth East Aug. 23. Woodbury shutout Andover the next day to drop the Huskies to an 0-2 start.
Anoka came within a shoot out of reaching the state tournament last season, losing to St. Michael-Albertville in Section 8AA title game.
This year the Tornadoes return to Section 7AA after two seasons and return a very experienced team that has played lettered at least two years. They return seven starters including seniors: goalie Katie Verkuilen; defenders Riley Giddings and Blair Muehlhauser; midfielder Mackenzie Winters; forward Brenna Giddings and junior forward Katie Beckman.
Anoka opened the season with a 3-2 win against south-metro power Bloomington Jefferson Aug. 22. Beckman scored three times with assists from three different players, Rayni Pemble, Jade Battles and Giddings. Verkuilen posted 14 saves in the win.
Coming off a state tournament appearance, Blaine opened the new season with the third place trophy at the Katie Drentlaw Tournament at Prior Lake Aug. 23-24.
The Bengals opened with a 3-1 loss in double overtime to the host Lakers. The lone Blaine goal came from junior Katie Marciniak with an assist from sophomore Haley Borja.
The loss set up a third-place match against Hill Murray. Blaine couldn’t build more than a one-goal lead and eventually won the contest 3-2.
Senior midfielder Danielle Peterson gave the Bengals the 1-0 lead in the first half, with help from senior defenseman Brittany Blackwelder, before the Pioneers pulled level before halftime.
Sophomore forward Sydney Siem made it 2-1 with an assist from Abbey Wohlers. After the Pioneers tied the game again, senior midfielder Abby Stepanek scored the game winner in the 70th minute for their first win of the season. Freshman goalkeeper Emily Brown picked up her first varsity win against Hill Murray.
Junior forward Allie Erickson scored the only goal in the 1-0 season-opener against St. Francis, Aug. 22. The Cardinals followed on the opposite end of a 1-0 score in a loss to Park, Cottage Grove.
Coach Jeff DeJoy split time in goal in both games, giving both seniors equal time. Robin Lindemann played the first half before Sam Lefaive took over in the second half. The pair combined to make eight saves in the loss and three in the shutout win.
DeJoy said his club played well defensively in both games and controlled the ball and pace of play to a higher degree against St. Francis. Coon Rapids’ inexperience on an artificial turf surface showed at Park. “[The Wolfpack] controlled play and were the better team,” he said.
The lack of offense is something DeJoy will focus on before the Aug. 29 Northwest Suburban Conference opener against Anoka.
After reaching the section semifinal last fall, Legacy Christian returns with a very young group that includes 11 freshman or eighth graders with three upperclassmen.
Coach Todd Manske said the team is determined to prove they are competitive despite their youth and small numbers. “Expect to see some great things on offense from freshman Sophie Kendall and Sara Cleveland.”
Senior captains Shae Scott and Rachel Anderson will patrol the defensive end of the field.
Spring Lake Park
The Panthers remained in search of a win after losing to Park Center 3-1 Aug. 22. The opener was a non-conference game for one more season as the Panthers will join the Northwest Suburban Conference before the fall of 2014. Spring Lake Park followed two days later with a scoreless draw against NWSC-school Maple Grove.
After opening the season with a 1-0 shutout loss to Coon Rapids, St. Francis rebounded with a 3-1 win against Princeton in its first game in the Mississippi 8 Conference, Aug. 24.
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