Benilde-St. Margaret’s Anne Arnason, right, congratulated Kelly Pannek in a match earlier this season against Holy Angels. The Red Knights, seeded No. 1 in Section 6, were 2011 Class 1A runners-up. Photo by Marlin Levison • email@example.com
The similarities to 2011 are hard to ignore. Benilde-St. Margaret's girls' soccer coach Scott Helling-Christy hopes that, with one large exception, things continue to go as they did one year ago.
With a enviable mix of experience and youth amid a roster overflowing with talent, the Red Knights have been the class of Class 1A this season.
They have outscored opponents 83-4 en route to a 15-0-1 regular-season record. Benilde-St. Margaret's heads into the Section 6 playoffs, which began Tuesday, as the No. 1 seed in the section and the top-ranked team in the state.
It's reminiscent of 2011, when the Red Knights took an 18-0-3 into the Class 1A championship game before being upset by Blake.
"That is a huge motivator for us," Helling-Christy said. "The team has had a great year, but they know they can't be overconfident. They got so close last year and they want so badly to get back there."
Orono, with high-scoring midfielder Sophie Babo, earned the second seed in the section. Benilde-St. Margaret's beat Orono 5-1 in their only meeting of the season.
Here's an overview of the rest of the section pairings in the west metro for girls and boys.
• Class 2A, Section 2: Burnsville picked up the No. 1 seed, but the Blaze will need to be wary of No. 3-seeded Eden Prairie, which is 6-1-2 in its past nine games.
• Class 2A, Section 5: The No. 1 seed went to Maple Grove, but the Crimson have a formidable foe in No. 2-seeded Centennial. The teams tied 3-3 in early September.
• Class 2A, Section 6: Longtime Edina coach Simon Whitehead said Wayzata, the No. 1 seed, is the best team he had seen all year. The Trojans (11-2-2) have not given up a goal since Sept 20 in reeling off five straight shutouts. No. 2 seed Minnetonka poses a threat. It played Wayzata to draws twice this season.
• Class 1A, Section 2: This is Blake's section to lose. The defending Class 1A champion is the only team to play Benilde-St. Margaret's straight up, in a scoreless tie on Aug. 28. Second-seeded Minneapolis Washburn is a dark horse.
• Class 1A, Section 5: It would be a major upset for No. 1-seeded Totino-Grace to lose. Park Center, the No. 2 seed, lost to the Eagles 3-1 during the regular season.
• Class 2A, Section 2: Rankings aside, this section is always among the most competitive in the state. Bloomington Jefferson deserves the top seed, but it would be foolish to overlook No. 2 Eden Prairie or No. 3 Edina.
• Class 2A, Section 5: On paper, top-seeded and undefeated Champlin Park looks to be a lock, but don't count out No. 2 seed Park Center. The Pirates put the only blemish on the Rebels' record, a 1-1 tie on Aug. 30.
• Class 2A, Section 5: High-scoring Elliot Cassutt leads top-seeded Minneapolis South, but the Tigers' road is bumpy. St. Louis Park, Wayzata and Minneapolis Southwest, the second through fourth seeds, are all good enough to emerge.
• Class 1A, Section 3: Many of the state's top private school programs reside here. No. 1 seeded St. Paul Academy (14-0-2) is on a collision course with No. 2 Holy Angels (11-0-2). If either falters, No. 4 Minnehaha Academy could step up.
• Class 1A, Section 5: Prairie Seeds, the 2011 Class 1A runner-up, has annihilated every team it has played. Can the 11-0 Lycans, who have scored at least six goals a game, keep up the pace as the competition gets tougher?
• Class 1A, Section 6: Waconia earned the No. 1 seed, but the nod has to go to No. 2 seed Benilde-St. Margaret's, the defending Class 1A champion.
Jim Paulsen • 612-673-7737
Tag(s): All Articles Rankings Featured Star Tribune Eden Prairie Edina Minnetonka Wayzata Minneapolis South Minneapolis Southwest Minneapolis Washburn Benilde-St. Margaret's St. Louis Park Totino-Grace Centennial Champlin Park Maple Grove Park Center Bloomington Jefferson Burnsville Park of Cottage Grove Blake Minnehaha Academy Orono Waconia Eden Prairie Edina Minnetonka Wayzata Minneapolis South Minneapolis Southwest Minneapolis Washburn Benilde-St. Margaret's St. Louis Park Totino-Grace Centennial Maple Grove Park Center Champlin Park Bloomington Jefferson Burnsville Park of Cottage Grove Blake Minnehaha Academy Orono Waconia