Anoka vs. Champlin Park

11 a.m., Saturday, Sept. 22

Anoka and Champlin Park aren't used to being atop the Northwest Suburban Conference, but here they are, hoping to stake their claim in a league usually dominated by other schools. Saturday's match, however, might be the catalyst for two programs looking for a conference crown.

After stumbling out of the gate this season, Anoka (6-1-1, 5-0-1) has won six straight and leads Champlin Park by one point entering the week. Before Saturday's match, the Tornadoes will be tested by perennial conference contender Centennial on Thursday.

A big part of the Tornadoes' tear this season has been goalkeeping-by-committee, with sophomore keeper Olivia Rowe allowing one goal and 37 saves in five games, and senior Bernadette Cienik's 10 saves and one goal allowed in three games.

Midfielder Sarah Stange leads Anoka’s offense with seven goals. She had a hat trick in a 7-0 win over Coon Rapids on Sept. 4 and another in a 4-0 defeat of St. Francis on Sept. 8.

Last year was the first time Anoka lost to Champlin Park (7-1, 5-1) in five seasons, and the Rebels have demonstrated steady improvement the last three seasons. After a 3-13 finish in 2014, the Rebels notched more wins each year to finally finish above .500 last year at 9-5-1.

With their eyes on winning the league, the No. 7-2A Rebels have an offense that helped win the first seven games of the season, outscoring opponents 30-2. They could use a big game from lethal striker Alex Lotts, whose 13 goals is tied for fifth in the state. Five of her scores came in one game, a 12-0 win over St. Cloud Apollo on Aug. 23.