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John’s Journal: Back At State And Everything Is Great

Celebrating Soccer’s Return To U.S. Bank Stadium

Posted: Thursday, November 4, 2021 - 1:50 PM


Centennial soccer

Centennial's Jordan Metz, Allyson Hamski and coach Christa Carlson.

Welcome back to the state tournament.

That’s a happy message for teams, players, coaches, officials and fans as fall state tournaments are being played for the first time in two years. Covid-19 wiped out all state tournaments in the autumn of 2020, but there is a definite sense of celebration this year.

For soccer teams that played at U.S. Bank Stadium two seasons ago, returning to the big glass-walled barn in downtown Minneapolis this week is equal parts relief and treat.

“Last year we could have gone to the state tournament; we won our section but we didn't get to because it was canceled,” said Centennial senior Allyson Hamski, who scored with 41 seconds to play as the Cougars defeated Rosemount 1-0 in Thursday’s Class 3A girls semifinals. “Obviously, we were just so excited that there was going to be a state tournament and we wanted to go all the way. So we're glad to be here. And was our goal from the start the season.”

Centennial, the state runner-up two years ago, will meet Stillwater in Saturday’s championship game.

The Rosemount girls, who finished third in 2019 (after losing to Centennial 2-1 in double overtime in the semifinals), were thrilled at the prospect of going back to state in 2021.

“There was definite excitement,” said Irish coach Gretchen Stramel. “They were so excited as a team, it was kind of a focus all year long. It felt like forever until we were able to get here, and you come here and it happens so fast, there's so much to take in.”

For players who saw action at U.S. Bank Stadium two years ago, that experience was valuable this time around.

“I think that was an advantage for us today, having guys who have been here before,” said Holy Angels boys soccer coach James See after the Stars defeated Mahtomedi 3-2 in Wednesday’s Class 2A semifinals. “I think that helped us and calmed us down a little bit, but also to see the confidence and the swagger that these guys brought forth. It really kind of calmed the nerves for some of our younger guys as we were taking the trek down 35W (seven miles from the school in Richfield).”

Holy Angels senior Aidan Smith, who scored all three goals Wednesday, had some advice for younger teammates who were new to playing in the big ballpark.

“When we were riding the bus here it was kind of funny. We drove through the tunnel, seeing everyone's faces like, ‘Oh my god, we're at U.S. Bank.’ I've done this before, we've gone through all these steps before. So having that feeling this time around, being a leader on the team, kind of showing all these kids what it's like to play here, how to play here, what mentality you need, it was definitely really helpful.

“Walking out of that tunnel for the first time, looking around and you see this big stadium. It can be kind of shell-shocking. So you just have to sit back, realize that you're prepared for this. It's just another field, same line, same goals. And then you've got to be confident that all your preparation pays off and you're ready for the moment.”

The moment was similar for Centennial’s Hamski, who said, “We let (younger players) know that there was going to be a ton of fans. It was going to be a huge stadium. It's a great experience just to even play here. You might feel a lot of pressure but just play it like any other game.”
 

Best Postgame Moment of the Tournament

Hamski’s game-winning goal for Centennial was a thing of beauty, fired from 25 yards and sailing into the upper-right corner of the goal.

It was the 14th total shot on goal of the game, with goalkeepers Jordan Hecht of Rosemount and Jordan Metz of Centennial turning away seven each, including a penalty kick that Hecht stopped midway through the second half.

Hecht, the Class 2A state champion in the discus and runner-up in the shot put, did everything she could to stop Hamski’s shot. The ball had to be in a very tight window in order to get inside the corner of the goal and outside of Hecht’s leaping reach, and that’s exactly where it went.

Rosemount had yielded only five goals all season prior to the state semifinals, shutting out 19 of 21 opponents.

Rosemount senior defender Josephine Edgar, who spoke to her junior teammate Hecht after the final horn, was asked during a postgame media session what she said. Josephine and Jordan were sitting next to each other in front of the media, along with Stramel (scroll down to see a photo).

“I told her, ‘Jordan, you kept us in that game. You made seven amazing saves.’ She did everything we could have asked of her. That was an amazing shot by the Centennial player. That was really well done by her and definitely something she'll remember for the rest of your life. But saving that PK was pivotal in our game and definitely gave us the energy that we needed. All you can do is your best and Jordan definitely did that today.”

Boys Soccer State Semifinals

Wednesday

Class 3A

Mounds View 2, Rochester Mayo 1

Rosemount 2, Duluth East 1

Class 2A

Orono 3, Willmar 1

Holy Angels 3, Mahtomedi 2

Class 1A

Southwest Christian 1, Pine Island/Zumbrota-Mazeppa 0

St. Paul Humboldt/Open World Learning 1, Rochester Lourdes 0

Girls Soccer State Semifinals

Thursday

Class 3A

Stillwater 3, Edina s

Centennial 1, Rosemount 0

Class 2A

Benilde-St. Margaret’s 3, Cloquet/Carlton 0

Mahtomedi 2, Holy Angels 1

Class 1A

Breck 4, Holy Family 1

Minnehaha Academy 4, Cotter 0

Saturday’s Championship Games

8 a.m.: 3A girls/ Stillwater vs. Centennial

10:30 a.m.: 3A boys/ Mounds View vs. Rosemount

1 p.m.: 2A girls/ Benilde-St. Margaret’s vs. Mahtomedi

3:30 p.m.: 2A boys/ Orono vs. Holy Angels

6 p.m.: 1A girls/ Breck vs. Minnehaha Academy

8:30 p.m.: 1A boys/ Southwest Christian vs. St. Paul Humboldt/Open World Learning

--MSHSL media specialist John Millea has been the leading voice of Minnesota high school activities for decades. Follow him on Twitter @MSHSLjohn and listen to "Preps Today with John Millea” wherever you get podcasts. Contact John at jmillea@mshsl.org  

Rosemount soccer

Rosemount's Josephine Edgar, Jordan Hecht and coach Gretchen Stramel.


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Benilde-St. Margaret's 3 Cloquet-Carlton 0 Class AA Girls Soccer Semifinal