John's Journal
Cheers And Tears As The Soccer Season Ends 10/31/2019
Whether it's the World Series on Wednesday night or a high school soccer game on Thursday morning, similarities are everywhere. In the final, deciding game of the season, one team will win and one team will not. One team will celebrate with hugs and high-fives and one team will tearfully hug it out.

In the final Class 1A girls soccer game of the 2019 season Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium, Mahtomedi defeated Orono 3-2 by scoring two goals on penalty kicks in the game’s final 12 minutes. The game-winner came with a little more than three minutes to play.

The result was the same as in the two previous 1A girls title games. Two years ago, Mahtomedi defeated Orono 2-1; the 2018 season ended with the Zephyrs defeating the Spartans 1-0 in overtime. Three games, three one-goal decisions.

There are 12 seniors on the Mahtomedi team this year, and they ended their careers with three state titles.

"Our seniors have really stepped up at the end,” said Zephyrs coach Dave Wald, who has been at the helm for 14 years. “It's going to be sad here, we're losing 12 of them. It's our second-biggest class ever coming through. And they've been a major part of all three state championships.”

One of those seniors, Lauren Heinsch, scored the penalty-kick goal that won Thursday’s game. Asked if she had ever dreamed about such a moment, she talked about dreams and teams.

“I honestly didn't even ever imagine it,” she said. “I remember when I was in elementary school and I went to go watch the girls high school team at the Metrodome. I remember all the spirit there and I was like. ‘I want to be those girls.’ And then sure enough. But I never would imagine that I would be that girl with an amazing team.”

Orono senior Claire Gagne, whom Wald called the best goalkeeper that Minnesota has produced in several years, said her team certainly wanted to win their last game together, but the fact that it was their last game together was more important than the setting.

“I think this team just wanted to go out with pride and we really just wanted to win our last game as a team,” Claire said. “And it wasn't necessarily that it was the state championship. It was the small things and the memories we've made that we wanted to really preserve, instead of having this memory. I think going into the game it was really more about playing for each other than playing for the state championship.”

The team. The friendships. The memories. Those are always more important than the outcome.

“I knew that it was like the last 20 minutes I'd ever play for this team, so let’s give it everything I have,” said Mahtomedi senior Anna Wagner, who scored the game’s first goal. “Why not put everything I have out there?”

As the postgame interview session came to a close, Heinsch and Wagner could have been speaking about either team when they said these words:

Lauren: “We're all kind to each other and there's no one that really stands out. So I think our chemistry is really strong.”

Anna: “We get along really well and that's what helps us get through games. We're willing to do anything for each other. We stick together.”

Class 1A Boys: Holy Angels 3, Blake 2 (2 OT)

Sophomore Nick McGrane scored with 10 seconds remaining in the second overtime to life Holy Angels to the victory over the defending champion Bears.

Blake had rallied from a 2-0 deficit to tie the score with two goals within three minutes near the end of regulation. The score remained that way through one 10-minute overtime period and nearly to the end of the second overtime.

“We just try to stay confident,” said Holy Angels senior Conor O’Rourke, who was named Class 1A Mr. Soccer by the Minnesota State High School Soccer Coaches Association. “Belief is one of our pillars for our soccer program. So you’ve just got to keep believing in each other. And that belief comes down to it. I mean with 10 seconds left in the second overtime and you still believe you can win? You never know what's going to happen.”

Class 2A Girls: Maple Grove 2, Centennial 1

Kelly Kloncz scored in the 18th minute to give the Crimson a one-goal advantage and Emma Fournier made it 2-0 in the 42nd minute. Centennial scored with slightly more than 12 minutes remaining in the second half on a header by Khyah Harper.

Class 2A Boys: Edina 2, East Ridge 1

The Hornets completed an unbeaten season by edging the Raptors. Oscar Smythe scored both goals for Edina and Cullen Featherstone scored for East Ridge.

Wells Fargo All-Tournament Teams

Class 1A girls/ Emma Dean, Bemidji; Kiana Bender, Cloquet-Carlton; Bella Talbot, Rochester Lourdes; Grace Seim, Waconia; Amelia Reyes, Blake; Ali Fine, Blake; Rachel Kawiecki, Holy Angels; Mia Van der Heide, Holy Angels; Ally Swenson, Orono; Sadie Koltes, Orono; Anna Tesar, Orono; Nora Chouanard, Orono; Lauren Heinsch, Mahtomedi; Audrey Sexson, Mahtomedi; Anna Wagner, Mahtomedi; Lindsey Handke, Mahtomedi.

Class 1A boys/ Henry Tolbert, Austin; Kee Rah, Austin; Nicholas Lundberg, Mankato West; Calder Erickson, St. Croix Prep; Jack Russum, St. Francis; Zakaria Mohamud, St. Cloud Tech; Ethan Miller, St. Cloud Tech; Reece Clifford, Orono; Ben Summers, Orono; Will Mortenson, Blake; Howard Henderson, Blake; Jake Shapiro, Blake; Porter Ball, Holy Angels; Mackie Zabinski, Holy Angels; Carter Hermanson, Holy Angels; Noah Hermanson, Holy Angels.

Class 2A girls/ Kaitlyn Hansen, Lakeville South; Emme Lindberg, Minnetonka; Paige Peltier, Cretin-Derham Hall; Marissa Bonilla, Stillwater; Paige Kalal, Champlin Park; Megan Carlson, Champlin Park; Kenzie Jacobson, Rosemount; Lexi Orlando, Rosemount; Olivia Kraemer, Rosemount; Khyah Harper, Centennial; Olivia Lovick, Centennial; Sydney Kubes, Centennial; Luca Ralph, Maple Grove; Emma Fournier, Maple Grove; Hannah Zahn, Maple Grove; Sarah Cortez, Maple Grove.

Class 2A boys/ Demetrius Benardy-Nelson, Centennial; Owen Johnson, Eastview; Wyatt Hall, Lakeville South; Caleb Robinson, Maple Grove; Vilas Stolpman, Mpls. Washburn; Darley Florvil, Mpls. Washburn; Ronald Hall Jr., St. Paul Central; Riaz Kelly, St. Paul Central; Reese Dodd, East Ridge; Nick Wagner, East Ridge; Brennan Featherstone, East Ridge; Alex Hager, East Ridge; Jordan Carter, Edina; Sammy Presthus, Edina; Hank Stechmann, Edina; Oscar Smythe, Edina.

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Edina, East Ridge Advance To 2A Boys Soccer Title Game 10/29/2019
Edina boys soccer coach Dave Jenson has been with the Hornets for a long time. So long, in fact, that players from his early teams are reaching 50 years of age.

Now in his 36th year as Edina's coach, Jenson will direct the Hornets in a state championship game for the fifth time when they meet East Ridge in the Class 2A title game at 5:30 p.m. at U.S. Bank Stadium.

In Jenson’s first championship game, Edina lost to St. Paul Academy & Summit School 3-1 in 1986. That team included some big names in Minnesota soccer history, which Jenson referred to after Tuesday’s 2-0 semifinal win over Minneapolis Washburn.

Asked about East Ridge and Central a few minutes before the second semifinal began, Jenson replied, "Well, they don't have Tony Sanneh or Manuel Lagos or Gerard Lagos.”

After that initial championship game, Edina won in its next three appearances, defeating Minnetonka in 1999, Bloomington Jefferson in 2000 and Wayzata in 2001.

Edina has a 2019 record of 21-0 and the Hornets will take six consecutive shutouts into Thursday’s game.

“Our defense has just really picked it up,” said junior goalkeeper Hank Stechmann. “They've been locking down the forwards and just not giving them any opportunities, so most of the credit goes to our midfield and back line.”

After a scoreless first half against Washburn, Sammy Presthus and Oscar Smythe scored in the second half.

East Ridge 1, St. Paul Central 0 (shootout)

Following a goal-free 80 minutes of regulation and 20 minutes of overtime, the Raptors came out on top in a six-round shootout to advance to Thursday’s title game against Edina. The shootout score was 5-4 in favor of East Ridge.

“It was a great game and there has to be a winner,” said Central coach David Albornoz. “I couldn't be prouder of my boys. It was an absolutely fantastic performance this season.”

Soccer State Semifinals

Class 2A girls
Maple Grove 3, Champlin Park 0
Centennial 2, Rosemount 1 (OT)

Class 1A girls
Mahtomedi 3, Blake 0
Orono 2, Holy Angels 1 (OT)

Class 1A boys
Holy Angels 4, St. Cloud Tech 1
Blake 4, Orono 1

Class 2A boys
Edina 2, Minneapolis Washburn 0
East Ridge 1, St. Paul Central 0 (5-4 shootout)

Thursday’s state championship games

10 a.m.: Class 1A girls/ Mahtomedi vs. Orono
12:30 p.m.: Class 1A boys/ Holy Angels vs. Blake
3 p.m.: Class 2A girls/ Maple Grove vs. Centennial
5:30 p.m.: Class 2A boys/ Edina vs. East Ridge

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Practice Makes Perfect Penalty Kicks For Centennial 10/28/2019
Like all soccer teams, the girls squad from Centennial High School practices penalty kicks on a regular basis. That preparation paid off Monday for the Cougars, who used two penalty-kick goals to defeat Rosemount 2-1 in double overtime in the Class 2A state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

Senior Madison Monson scored on a PK in the second half, which was quickly answered when Rosemount's Lexi Orlando scored. The tie held up until Lauren Ahles scored on a penalty kick in the second overtime.

The Cougars didn't practice Saturday, but Ahles did. She went to the soccer field at University of Northwestern in St. Paul for an individual workout that included drills on penalty kicks.

"We practice a lot of PK's during the season, and on Saturday I actually went out and practiced them," she said. "And I just thought that it was all repetition. I just thought in my head (Monday), '1, 2, 3, hit!' I even said it out loud."

As Lauren told the story after Monday's game, Centennial coach Ginger Flohaug smiled and said, "When she said she went out on Saturday and practiced it, that's all on her own. And so this is the first time I'm actually hearing about that."

Centennial will meet Maple Grove in the championship game at 3 p.m. Thursday.

It's All About The Memories

The Mahtomedi girls team will play in its third consecutive Class 1A state championship game when the Zephyrs meet Orono Thursday at 10 a.m. Mahtomedi is no stranger to the title game; the Zephyrs are at state for the 15th time since 1995, winning championships in 1997, 1999, 2003, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2017 and 2018. Mahtomedi defeated Orono in the past two state championship games, 2-1 in 2017 and 1-0 in overtime last season.

That kind of big-game background can provide a payoff, not only in game scores but also in what the players know is most important: the experience.

"These are the memories that you'll always remember,” said Mahtomedi senior Audrey Sexson. “I just go into it and tell everybody, ‘All you can do is try your hardest and hopefully make some memories.’ ”

Senior Anna Wagner added, “It's amazing, it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. Not many teams get to do this. And so, to be a part of it and be a senior who's been on all three trips is just amazing.”

No Place Like Away From Home

Every girls and boys soccer team that qualifies for the state semifinals is thrilled to be playing inside U.S. Bank Stadium. After closing the regular season and then playing postseason games in what can be less-than-ideal weather conditions, the indoor home of the Vikings is very special.

No team, however, is happier with the field conditions than the Rosemount girls. Because their grass home field has taken a beating during a wet autumn, the Irish were forced to play their final four home games elsewhere. The Rosemount football had its two most recent playoff games moved, as well.

“It was a bummer,” said Irish coach Gretchen Stramel. “It's a tough field to play on, especially when you're a more controlled team, with a higher skill level. Playing a ball that bounces around and gets stuck in the grass and kind of redirects is very difficult for a highly skilled team.

“But it also was a bummer that we had to give up our home-field advantage and had to go on the road. Our fans did a great job of traveling with us but there would have been more if you're at your home stadium, a different atmosphere. It's just an unfortunate thing for us.”

Irish midfielder Lexi Orlando said, “The field definitely messes with my mind sometimes just because the conditions are pretty crappy for our team. And I just feel more comfortable when we have our fans. I just like that home feeling and excitement, and I feel like that almost helps us push through the fact that our conditions on the field are kind of crappy.”

Soccer State Semifinals

Class 2A girls
Maple Grove 3, Champlin Park 0
Centennial 2, Rosemount 1 (OT)

Class 1A girls
Mahtomedi 3, Blake 0
Orono 2, Holy Angels 1 (OT)

Class 1A boys
Holy Angels 4, St. Cloud Tech 1
Blake 4, Orono 1

Class 2A boys
Noon: Edina vs. Minneapolis Washburn
2 p.m.: St. Paul Central vs. East Ridge

Thursday’s state championship games

10 a.m.: Class 1A girls/ Mahtomedi vs. Orono
12:30 p.m.: Class 1A boys/ Holy Angels vs. Blake
3 p.m.: Class 2A girls/ Maple Grove vs. Centennial
5:30 p.m.: Class 2A boys/

--Follow John on Twitter @MSHSLjohn, listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts and hear him on Minnesota Public Radio.
Class 6A Football Rankings10/25/2019
From The Associated Press.

Class 6A
School Total Points Prv
1. Wayzata (5) (7-0) 50 1
2. Lakeville South (6-1) 45 2
3. Lakeville North (6-1) 39 T4
4. Champlin Park (6-1) 36 6
5. Eden Prairie (5-2) 28 8
6. Centennial (5-2) 22 10
7. Totino-Grace (5-2) 17 T4
8. Mounds View (5-2) 16 7
9. St. Michael-Albertville (5-2) 15 3
10. Rosemount (4-3) 4 NR
Others receiving votes: Farmington 1, Maple Grove 1, Woodbury 1.
Class 5A Football Rankings10/25/2019
From The Associated Press.

Class 5A
School Total Points Prv
1. Owatonna (6) (7-0) 69 1
2. St. Thomas Academy (7-0) 62 2
3. Elk River (7-0) 54 3
4. Robbinsdale Armstrong (1) (7-0) 53 4
5. Bemidji (7-0) 41 5
6. Tartan (7-0) 36 6
7. Chaska (6-1) 28 8
8. Rogers (6-1) 21 9
9. Mankato West (5-2) 12 10
10. Minneapolis Southwest (6-1) 4 NR
(tie) Spring Lake Park (6-1) 4 NR
Others receiving votes: Rochester Century 1.