Maple Grove Girls Soccer Team Ready for Final Championship Chase
Nov 01, 2017 10:01PM ● Published by Doug Erlien
Get to the state tournament.
On that Thursday in October, Centennial scored to tie the game with seven minutes remaining and then scored again in overtime to defeat the Crimson for the second straight season in the section championship game.
“When we tell you that you are a championship caliber team, we mean it,” Head Coach Ben LeVahn said. “That doesn’t mean we would have necessarily did what Centennial did, but it’s definitely the capability we had with that team.”
It was following that game and watching the Cougars win the state championship that the Crimson returning players decided they had enough of second place.
As players parted ways to their club teams, the mission remained the same and when practice began in mid-August, the team bonded and came together quickly.
“We’ve talked about our goals and we want a state championship,” senior Meredith Haakenson said before the season started. “With the work ethic that we’ve put in and are putting in right now, I think that’s definitely visible, it’s in our future if we work hard for it.”
The season started with six straight shutouts and eight straight wins including a 3-2 win over Centennial to set the tone for the season. The first loss came to then No. 2 ranked Washburn 2-0. Another six game winning streak including another four shutouts were followed by a tough 2-1 loss to Andover to end the season.
Haakenson led the offense with 12 goals, but eight other Crimson scored goals including three players with five goals (Mannon McManon, Shelby Handberg and Mia Omar). Add solid play in net by sophomore goalkeeper Sarah Cortez, who has played every minute of every game this season and the Crimson headed to the postseason battle tested.
The Second Season
After cruising to back-to-back 6-0 wins over Park Center and Coon Rapids the rematch against Centennial in the section championship was set.
Handberg scored midway through the first half to take the pressure off and the Crimson got their revenge shutting the Cougars out en-route to a 3-0 win.
“I think the biggest part at halftime was the really big psychological part,” Haakenson said. “We just said, third time’s the charm and let’s go out and do it.”
And they did.
Making a Statement
There was no letdown, once the team made it to their first state tournament. The Crimson shutout Eastridge 3-0 in the quarterfinals. Lauren Bredensteiner, Mia Omar and Lexi Miler provided the offense and as she has done all season, Cortez played solid in net in the win.
The semifinal game against Lakeville North provided the most entertainment and most nerves of the tournament as the Crimson and Panthers scoreless soccer for 100 minutes setting up a shootout to determine who would advance to the championship game.
In a season that has provided plenty of memories, the Crimson made a few more as they defeated Lakeville North 3-1 in the shootout giving them an official 1-0 victory.
“That’s big in these big game situations,” LeVahn said. “There’s been a lot leading to this point and they weren’t going to let it slip away.”
They didn’t, and at 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2 at U.S. Bank Stadium, the Crimson girls soccer team will attempt to do something they prepared for all off season.
The Crimson have their eyes on a championship.