Benilde-St. Margaret's at Chaska
5 p.m., Thursday, Sept. 5

Chaska and Benilde-St. Margaret’s kick off Metro West Conference play Thursday in what expects to be a rugged league.

After finishing in the middle of the conference standings last year, the Hawks and the No. 6-1A Red Knights aim to dethrone defending champion Bloomington Jefferson this season.

Chaska pulled off a 3-2 win over Benilde-St. Margaret’s in their last meeting, which started a six-game winning streak for the Hawks, who went on to secure their first trip the state tournament in school history. Chaska finished tied for third in Class 1A after a 1-1 draw with Mankato West in the third-place game.

The Hawks knocked off defending state champion St. Paul Como Park 2-0 in the Class 1A quarterfinals before losing 2-1 in overtime to DeLaSalle in the semifinals.

Chaska, which moved to Class 2A this year, returns plenty of experienced players, including all-tournament team selections Jose Cholico, an attacker who had 10 goals a year ago, and goalkeeper Isaac Thompson. The Hawks also get back Joshua Prater and Andrew Leck, who both scored 11 goals and had three assists last season.

Cholico, Andrew Chapin, Daniel DeLeon and Leck each had a goal in Chaska’s season-opening 4-4 tie against Prairie Seeds Academy.

The Red Knights, who finished last season with a 9-9-1 record, made a run to the Class 1A, Section 6 semifinals before losing to top-seeded Breck 2-1.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s also boasts an experienced lineup and opened the season with a 3-0 win over Duluth Marshall. Colin Segner, Luke Horton and Noah Twesten scored for the Red Knights.