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The Language Of Soccer Is Big In St. Paul
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/19/2017 4:14:30 PM

During the second half of a boys soccer game between St. Paul City Conference rivals on Monday evening, Washington Technology coach Jason Hamilton yelled encouragement to one of his players. “Nice work, Ku Thaw!”

The game ended with Como Park winning 2-0 on goals by Abdulaziz Ahmed and Kher Lin Kyaw. If those names don’t sound to you like “typical” Minnesota names, you haven’t seen these teams – or many other St. Paul and Minneapolis public school teams – compete.

The Como Park and Washington boys soccer teams are filled with sons of immigrant families. Como Park coach Jonah Fields said his team consists of 13 players whose background is Karen (a state in Myanmar), four Somali, one from Ghana, one American-born Latino and an exchange student from Spain.

“It’s a lot of fun,” said Fields, who is in his fourth year as head coach and 11th year with the Cougars soccer program. “In this community, the Karen have brought a ton of energy, not just to soccer but to our school district and throughout this part of St. Paul and these neighborhoods. We’re lucky to have those hard-working people, like so many other immigrant groups who come here and bring their food and their music and their culture and their passion.”

Many of Washington’s players are also Karen, said coach Jason Hamilton. Others have Nepali, Hmong and Latino backgrounds.

With such diversity, language issues and other challenges are possible. But both coaches said their players deserve praise for working together.

“I like to give these boys the credit,” Hamilton said. “It’s not challenging, because these guys are a phenomenal group to coach and work with. They’re respectful, they’re hard-working, they’re dedicated and they work together. It’s fun for me to be able to be a part of it.”

Fields said, “You have to meet them on their language terms. What you count on is the leadership of your players, the one who have more language skills, to share it. You get extra-dependent on your captains to share the message. They get it and they spread the word.”

Como Park has been a dominant team in recent years. The Cougars have gone to state every year since 2012 and won the Class 1A state title in 2013.

Many of the Washington and Como Park players grew up together – the schools are only two miles apart -- and their soccer rivalry is healthy as well as competitive. Monday’s game was played with no yellow cards and no negative comments from players, coaches or fans. The game was scoreless at halftime.

“Every time we play Washington, everybody’s excited,” said Como Park senior Law Htoo. “We know some of these guys; we grew up in the same neighborhood and we go to different high schools. It’s a pretty big thing for us to win this game. We stuck together even though it wasn’t going well in the first half. In the second half we made some changes and everybody started cooperating.”

Soccer is a highly popular sport at both schools. Hamilton said 120 boys attended tryouts for spots on the varsity and three sub-level teams. The Eagles have a young varsity, with about half the players in ninth or 10th grade.

“They’re growing up, getting better and competing,” Hamilton said. “And these guys (the team captains) are the leaders who are showing those young guys the way.”

Fields said when he started coaching at Como Park 11 years ago, about half the players were not American-born.

“It’s gone maybe from 50 percent to about 20 percent (American-born),” he said. “This is something they excel at, this is their sport of choice. So it’s a source of pride at Como that we can compete with anybody in the state of Minnesota at the game of soccer.”

After Monday’s game had ended and handshakes and hugs had been exchanged between the teams, the players were greeted by families and friends on the sidelines. Everybody knows that the rivalry will continue on Oct. 4 at Como Park in the final game of the regular season.

“We love to play this game,” said Washington’s Doh Han. “It’s very challenging.”

--To see a photo gallery, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn



Class 1A Girls Swimming and Diving Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/18/2017 2:30:20 PM

1. Hutchinson
2. Visitation
3. Blake
4. Sartell
5. Delano
6. Fairbault
7. Breck
8. Monticello
9. Hill-Murray
10. Detroit Lakes



Class 2A Girls Swimming and Diving Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/18/2017 2:29:52 PM

1. Edina
2. Minnetonka
3. Wayzata
4. Eden Prairie
5. Rosemount
6. Stillwater
7. Prior Lake
8. Eagan
9. St. Michael Albertville
10. Chanhassen



Class 2A Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/18/2017 2:29:20 PM

TEAMS
1 Edina
2 Mahtomedi
3 Hopkins
4 Rochester Mayo
5 Prior Lake
6 St. Cloud Tech
7 Wayzata
8 Minnetonka
9 Duluth East
tie 10 Roseville
tie 10 Brainerd

INDIVIDUALS
1 Sophie Reddy (12) Edina
2 Nicole Copeland (10) Edina
3 Meagan Brown (12) Elk River
4 Maddie Suk (11) Hopkins
5 Aili Hietala (9) Duluth East
6 Samantha Nichols (12) Eagan
7 Abbie Kelm (12) Bemidji
8 Lauren Ferg (11) Eagan
9 Ellen Puzak (11) Minneapolis Southwest
10 Grace Riermann (12) Mahtomedi



Class 1A Girls Tennis Rankings
Posted by John Millea (jmillea@mshsl.org) - Updated 9/18/2017 2:28:58 PM

TEAMS
1 Blake
2 Rochester Lourdes
3 Litchfield
4 Breck
5 Virginia
6 Jordan
7 Osakis
8 Holy Family Catholic
9 Mounds Park Academy
10 Lake City

INDIVIDUALS
1 Lainey Axell (12) Blake
2 Arlina Shen (10) Blake
3 Katie Mulvey (11) Trinity at River Ridge
4 Clare Palen (10) Rochester Lourdes
5 Cindy Li (12) Winona Cotter
6 Shanna Kinny (11) Litchfield
7 Sophie Lynch (12) Holy Catholic Family
8 Natalie Allison (11) Rochester Lourdes
9 Rachel Lindrud (12) Mounds Park Academy
10 Renata Hernandez (11) St. James



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