Both goals in Fridley’s 2-0 victory over Brooklyn Center came from the feet of sophomores despite it being Senior Night on Tuesday at Fridley High School.
Tigers midfielder Ivan Aquino skipped a shot past Centaur’s sophomore goalie Femi Akindumila, putting Fridley up 1-0 in the 34th minute. Attacker Sharmake Nur uncorked his shot inside the goalie box, which eluded Akindumila’s outstretched mitt in the 62nd minute.
Coach William Totimeh said it was ironic a senior didn’t score on senior night, but did add the sophomore class is full of talent.
“One of my goals coming to work with them was just to implement some discipline within that talent, and it’s starting to pay off now and the kids are looking really good,” Totimeh said.
The roster consists of just three seniors, with the bulk of players coming from the junior and sophomore classes. There’s also an eighth and a ninth grader on the squad. One of the three seniors, goalie Harry Hercenroden, said teamwork trumps age.
“For me, age isn’t really much ... the way I see our team is kind of like a car, if one piece isn’t there we fall apart, Hercenroden said. "It’s not really age, it’s what piece people bring to the table.”
Someone who’s helping the car run smoothly is Nur. In his first season on varsity, the sophomore is going pedal to the metal by leading the team in goals. Nur said he didn’t expect this type of success, but the upperclassmen have been helping him along the way.
“(The seniors) taught me a lot of things . . . in my first year of (varsity) soccer they taught me a lot,” Nur said.
The senior class consists of Hercenroden, defender Dylan Glumac and attacker Mohamed Abdi. They were described by Totimeh as cornerstone teachers for this young Tigers squad.
“What they bring is experience, lots of experience,” Totimeh said. “(Hercenroden) helps motivate the younger guys and push them forward. (Glumac) basically leads by example, because he’s been around it for a while, so he plays hard, so the guys can see that and learn from it.”
Totimeh added this type of learning experience creates “a soccer culture” for the program. With the soccer culture built around underclassmen, Totimeh said one thing the team has been focusing on having a positive outlook.
“Positivity is something we’ve been teaching a lot this season,” Totimeh said. “One of the important things that was focused on in the preseason was respect, not sort of the conventional aspect of it, but how you go about respect another person in more of a humble way.”
This type of positive outlook helped the Tigers (10-4-0, 5-2) secure second place in the Tri-Metro Conference with their win over Brooklyn Center (8-7-1, 1-5-1).
If Fridley wants to outperform last year’s postseason, it’ll have to continue to have a positive mindset. The Tigers got bounced 4-1 by St. Paul Washington in the Class 1A, Section 5 quarterfinals. The biggest challengers in Section 5 is last year’s Class 1A state runner-up DeLaSalle, Totino-Grace and Columbia Heights. Hercenroden called Section 5 “tough,” but Totimeh said tactical awareness will be a key factor for postseason success.
“One of the things I hope we bring into play the next couple weeks in postseason is improving our tactical awareness as a group, because whenever we’re tactical as a group we play really well,” Totimeh said.
Sophomore midfielder Ivan Aquino and sophomore attacker Sharmake Nur each scored as Fridley sailed past Brooklyn Center 2-0 on Tuesday night in a Tri-Metro Conference matchup at Fridley High School.
Aquino took a pass, beat the Brooklyn Center defense and unleashed his shot from just outside the goalie box, which eluded Centaurs' sophomore goalie Femi Akindumila in the 34th minute.
Nur released his shot, which looked like it was shot of a cannon, inside the goalie box. It found the top right corner after it sailed past the outstretched hand of Akindumila. His goal put the Tigers up 2-0 in the 62nd minute.
Fridley (10-4-0, 5-2) concludes the regular season at Simley on Saturday, while Brooklyn Center (8-7-1, 1-5-1) concluded the regular season with a four-game winless streak with its loss Tuesday night.
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