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A look at the soccer season

By DAVID LA VAQUE, Star Tribune, 09/07/21, 7:30PM CDT


Edina girls are ranked No. 1 but face the usual barrier to postseason success.

Maddie Dahlien and goalie Bayliss Flynn are forces for Edina. CARLOS GONZALEZ, Star Tribune

Fall sports

Edina’s status as the No. 1-ranked girls’ soccer team in Class 3A comes with a catch. When it comes to the more meaningful postseason, a familiar blue anchor sinks the Hornets deep into the abyss.

Minnetonka has ruled Section 2 for the past three seasons, blanking Edina in the section championship game twice during that stretch. Though the Hornets dispatched their first three opponents this season by a combined 15-0, their first true test comes Tuesday against Minnetonka.

“They seem to have our number,” Edina coach Katie Aafedt said.

This season, the rivalry is more personal than ever. First-year Skippers coach Kelsey Hans, who directed Blake’s program the past two seasons, is a former Edina assistant coach.

“Having her over there now just adds an extra level of excitement,” Aafedt said.

Edina’s bid to reach its first state tournament since 2017 starts with elite players such as senior Maddie Dahlien. The North Carolina commit scored 22 goals during the COVID-19-shortened 2020 season. In goal, junior Bayliss Flynn entered this week without conceding a goal in 200 minutes of action.

Edina, having already beaten No. 6 Wayzata this season, welcomes third-ranked Stillwater to town Wednesday.

Improved schedules

Stillwater’s trip to Edina is one of several intriguing nonconference games taking place this season. Such games were prohibited last fall to lessen the chances of COVID-19 transmission.

No. 2 Rosemount knocked off Stillwater earlier this season.

On the boys’ side, Holy Angels (No. 1, Class 2A) has already beaten Holy Family (No. 4, Class 1A) in a nonconference game.

Athletes everywhere

Blaine junior Kendall Stadden, who recently made a verbal commitment to the Gophers soccer team, lent her big leg to the Bengals football team. Her 31-yard field goal as time expired gave Blaine a season-opening 23-21 victory at White Bear Lake.

Stadden, Dahlien, Rosemount junior goalkeeper Jordan Hecht are among a growing number of great female athletes who are soccer players first. At the Class 2A track and field state meet in June, Dahlien swept the 100-, 200- and 400-meter races while Hecht won the discus and placed second in shot put.

Yet on the soccer field, those players display all the technical skills of elite soccer players. In the past, Aafedt said, many of the top soccer players got by more as great athletes than groomed soccer players.

“You’re seeing a better level of play overall,” she said.

A list of other top players this season would include senior midfielders Cat Duffy Shaw of Holy Angels and Sophia Barjesteh of Woodbury.

 Third class

The Minnesota State High School League approved a third class for soccer this season, which concludes at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The state tournament quarterfinals take place Oct. 26-28 at neutral sites. The semifinals and finals will be held Nov. 3-6 at U.S. Bank Stadium. Third-place games in the expanded field move to the West St Paul Regional Athletics Center.

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