Maple Grove girls vs.

Champlin Park

5 p.m., Tuesday, Sept. 8

Even in the best of times high school sports are brimming with unpredictability. Handicapping games or deciphering outcomes during a pandemic-shortened season? The phrase fool’s errand comes to mind.

So we’re not going to read too much into defending Class 2A state champion Maple Grove’s lackluster start to a highly unusual season. The Crimson (0-2, 0-2) lost eight seniors from last year’s squad that went 13-2-1 in the regular season before reeling off five straight postseason victories, including a 2-1 triumph over Centennial in the state title game. Emma Fournier (15 goals last season) and Kelley Kloncz (11 goals, 7 assists last season) were the goal scorers in that game and are among the top senior returners for the Crimson, ranked No. 1 in the Class 2A coaches' poll from Aug. 31, this fall.

Champlin Park (2-0, 2-0) routed Spring Lake Park 3-0 and Elk River 4-1 to start the season. The No. 8-2A Rebels will no doubt be fired up to earn a third straight victory (and hand the Crimson a third straight loss), given that Maple Grove, the fifth seed at last year’s state tournament, stunned No. 1-seeded Champlin Park 3-0 in a semifinal. Senior Maille Mathis leads the Rebels with four goals and goalkeeper Sarah Martin, a sophomore, has earned both victories while stopping a combined 11 shots.