St. Paul Central junior Yasin N'da pushes the ball upfield against Eastview in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship. The Minutemen defeated the Lightning 1-0 to advance to the state tournament. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
There was a time when St. Paul public schools didn’t play in the state soccer tournament.
That changed in 2003, when St. Paul Central became the first to do so. And now, in 2018, the Minutemen have done it again.
St. Paul Central won a gritty 1-0 Class 2A, Section 3 title game against Eastview on Tuesday night. The top-seeded Minutemen went up in the seventh minute on a Lightning own-goal, then held on the rest of the way for their first section crown in a decade and a half.
“Fifteen years is long enough,” said St. Paul Central coach David Albornoz.
Some of the players on Central’s roster weren’t born the last time the Minutemen played in the state tournament. And Central’s been close to state recently, losing section finals in 2014, ‘15 and ‘16, before falling in an upset to Rosemount in the first round last year.
St. Paul Central goalkeeper Owen Brooks dives to make a save in Tuesday night's Class 2A, Section 3 championship against Eastview. The Minutemen held on to defeat the Lightning 1-0. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
Sometimes in soccer, teams win pretty. Other times, they win gritty.
This one was gritty for St. Paul Central, but the result was what mattered.
Top seed St. Paul Central used an early Lightning own goal to defeat No. 2 seed Eastview 1-0 in the Class 2A, Section 3 championship Tuesday at Burnsville High School.
The Minutemen (17-0-1), ranked No. 5 in the season's final Class 2A coaches' poll, spent much of the game sitting back and looking to counter, especially after getting an early lead.
The Minutemen went ahead in the seventh minute when a ball crossed in was knocked into the Lightning's net on a clearance attempt by Eastview defender Suyash Kalra. The goal was credited to St. Paul Central’s Max Hand.
Eastview (14-5) controlled possession for much of the first half, but had just one shot on goal to show for it. The Lightning had chances in the second half, but couldn’t get many opportunities.
St. Paul Central goalkeeper Owen Brooks made three saves while Eastview’s Elliott Brown made five.
The Minutemen secure a trip to state for the first time since 2003 and will be only their second overall appearance.
Eastview senior Gus Walney chases down a loose ball against St. Paul Central. The Lightning fell to the Minutemen 1-0 in the Class 2A, Section 3 Final in Burnsville. Photo by Jeff Lawler, SportsEngine
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