Senior forward Olivia Lovick, at practice Monday, is one of four Centennial captains this fall. Photos by David La Vaque, Star Tribune.
Amid their emotions, or “feels” as high school kids call them, about their final first day of varsity soccer, seniors on Centennial’s boys’ and girls’ soccer teams took the field Monday believing great success awaits.
For Olivia Lovick, that means returning to state for the first time since 2016, when the Cougars won the Class 2A title. Meanwhile, Demetrius Bernardy-Nelson eyes a return to the state tournament, new ground the program broke last fall.
Continuity reigns. The girls’ team lost three starters. The boys’ lost just two. Each team returns top goal scorers, Bernardy-Nelson for the boys and Khyah Harper for the girls.
But both teams face different postseason paths. Section realignment moved them from Section 5 to Section 7.
For the girls’ team, that means the section title won’t come down to the final against Maple Grove for the fifth consecutive season. Instead, the Cougars could mix it up with other Northwest Suburban Conference rivals such as Anoka or Andover.
Lovick called two consecutive section title game losses — chiefly last season’s in overtime — “definitely fuel, especially for the seniors because we want to make the most of our last season together.”
Coach Ginger Flohaug said, “We met a lot during the school year because we wanted them to stay focused, build off last year and try to go one step further.”
The team adopted “All for One” as their motto. Players represent almost a dozen different summer club teams. While Monday brought them to same field, melding more than their physical abilities is paramount.
Lovick, who serves as captain along with Molly Mosher and twin sisters Madison and Mallory Monson, said, “We want to focus on working for each other and staying close as a group so that we can do the best we can do.”
Jesus Galvan-Garcia, a junior, gives Centennial one of the state’s best center-backs.
Though without an official slogan, the boys’ team shares a similar philosophy.
“You make it something that is internally motivating for them,” coach Jeff Ottosen said. “Like, ‘How can I help you?’ And this group has done a good job of staying pointed in the right direction. Getting to state created an impressive commitment level by this group to offseason training.”
Boys’ team captains are Chalee Moua, Bernardy-Nelson and Nick Valento. Talented center-back Jesus Galvan-Garcia also plays a key role. Players said reuniting Monday felt so good.
“We’re happy that the soccer season is back and we get to go play again,” Bernardy-Nelson said. “The seniors are really hyped for this season but sad at the same time because it’s our last one.”