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Next soccer steps are big ones

By Star Tribune, 10/19/15, 9:20PM CDT


Section finals in boys’ and girls’ soccer begin Tuesday, making each goal precious and each save clutch. Here are some notable showdowns to watch:

Callen Knutson, Minneapolis Southwests boys' soccer, #3, in a game earlier this season agains Minneapolis Washburn.



Class 2A

Section 3: No. 6 seed St. Paul Central vs. No. 1 Eagan, 5 p.m. Wednesday at Park of Cottage Grove

Both teams are hot. Eagan hasn’t lost in more than a month. The Minutemen, who dropped just one game all season, upset Cretin-Derham Hall in the semifinals. Eagan, meanwhile, got goals from leading scorer Dennis Morales in both playoff games. Each team last made state in 2003.


Section 4: No. 3 seed East Ridge at No. 1 North St. Paul, 7 p.m. Wednesday

East Ridge fell just twice this season — once to North St. Paul. Casey Holm, the Polars’ coach, said the 4-2 victory on Sept. 1 means little. “Our talent level is there but can we hold them off and do our job?” Holm said. Dynamic sophomores Ata Claremond and Busquets Jeudi lead top-ranked North St. Paul.


Section 5: No. 3 seed Mounds View at No. 1 Park Center, 7 p.m. Tuesday)

Both Park Center playoffs victories were rematches. Same goes for the final. A 4-1 Pirates victory Sept. 19 featured three goals in the first 20 minutes. “That won’t happen again,” Park Center coach Sean McNattin said. But the Pirates’ brand of high-pressure soccer could produce their first state trip since 2003.


Section 6: No. 4 seed Minneapolis Washburn at No. 2 Minneapolis Southwest, 7 p.m. Tuesday)

Neighboring schools divided at 50th Street meet again. Southwest earned a victory and tie against Washburn already this season. But Lakers coach Jamie Plaisance said his team was outplayed both times. “Defensively, we’re better now than we’ve been and it’s the same for Washburn offensively,” Plaisance said.



Class 2A

Section 1: No. 7 seed Rochester Century at No. 1 Lakeville North, 7 p.m. Wednesday

Top-ranked Lakeville North (15-1) looked forward to a battle with rival Lake-ville South. Instead, the Panthers face a Century team that beat two playoff opponents — including the Cougars — without scoring a goal in regulation. “It makes you think a little bit,” Panthers coach Jeremiah Johnson said.


Section 3: No. 2 seed Burnsville vs. No. 1 Eagan, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday at Park of Cottage Grove

A South Suburban Confernce collision featuring two of the state’s top 10 teams. Eagan won 1-0 during the season on a Taylor Kenealy goal. Blaze coach John Soderholm said neutralizing Kenealy and Jade King is paramount. Burnsville counters with a solid back line and goalkeeper Sarah Gigstad.


Section 4: No. 6 seed Stillwater at No. 1 Mounds View, 7 p.m. Tuesday

Unbeaten Mounds View (17-0-1) blanked Stillwater 1-0 on Oct. 1. Lauded by Mustangs coach Terri Patraw as “one of the feistiest teams we play,” Stillwater (7-8-3) used strong defense to stay in games. Mounds View’s defense has allowed just six goals all season and zero in the past seven matches.


Section 6: No. 2 Minneapolis Washburn at No. 1 Wayzata, 7 p.m. Tuesday

A year ago, Washburn reached the Class 1A title game. The graduation of 11 seniors and move up to 2A did not change expectations. The Millers beat top 10 teams Burnsville and Eagan earlier this season. Top seed Wayzata is in danger of missing state for a third consecutive season, a drought last seen in the late 1980s.


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