Top Maple Grove Sports Moments of 2017
Dec 28, 2017 09:11PM
By Doug Erlien
What do you think the top high school sports moments were of 2017? Share your thoughts in comments below!
We begin our top five sports moments of 2017 with the ending of an era. The Maple Grove Crimson boys basketball team made one final run at a state championship during the 2016-17 season. Led by 12 seniors, Maple Grove advanced to the state semifinal round with a win over Andover, but then fell in back-to-back contests to Apple Valley and then Wayzata to finish fourth. The seniors led the way with a season high 28 wins and back-to-back state tournament appearances.
The CI Soccer team comprised of players from Maple Grove, Osseo and Park Center continued their dominance as they defeated the Southern Stars 11-4 to claim their third consecutive championship. Park Center had three different players share in the scoring efforts with Philip Worzie scoring six goals. Sophomore Alfred Konneh added three goals and Jose Guiterrez-Peralta chipped in with two.
In at number three is a dominating football performance. Crimson junior running back Evan Hull had an amazing season. He set the program record for most rushing yards in a season with 2,174 yards. It was his performance in the second round of the playoffs against Roseville that netted him a spot in our top five. Hull took the hand off on the first offensive play 80-yards for a touchdown, then followed it up with 317 more yards, setting a single game record 397 yards in the Crimson’s 41-28 win over the Raiders on a snowy Friday night.
Number two story comes courtesy of a team that finally broke through. The Maple Grove girls soccer team had a state tournament run on their minds all summer and in 2017, they finally broke through. The Crimson girls soccer team had failed to advance to the state in the history of the program. Maple Grove had fallen to Centennial in the section championship game less than a year earlier. Led by senior Merideth Haakenson, who had won the 2016 Minnesota Gatorade Player of the Year Award, the Crimson kept that loss to the Cougars on their minds all off-season.
Maple Grove defeated the Cougars in their regular season meeting en-route to a 14 win regular season (the best in school history). They would also exact revenge against Centennial in the section championship game, defeating the Cougars 3-0, punching their ticket to the state tournament for the first time in school history.
“There’s so much carryover from last year,” Head Coach Ben LeVahn said. “I hadn’t seen a group bond as early as we did. We had the kids talking about it in the summer.”
LeVahn’s Crimson advanced to the state championship game, losing to Eagan in the games final seconds on a corner kick, but it set the blueprint for the future.
When it comes to the top sports moment of 2017, there are only two words that define it.
Trailing 27-10 late in the fourth quarter of the state quarterfinal game against St. Michael-Albertville, the Maple Grove Crimson pulled off one of the best comebacks in Minnesota high school football history.
The Crimson, scored three touchdowns in the final 59 seconds to stun the Knights and advance to the semi-final round.
“This is for everyone,” Head Coach Matt Lombardi said, “It doesn’t matter how bad things look in your life, you keep fighting.”
The Crimson scored their first touchdown with 59 seconds remaining when Joe Raymon scored on a 30-yard touchdown pass from Curtis Haugen. Maple Grove recovered the onside kick and Raymon scored again one play later to make it a 27-22 game.
Needing another onside kick recovery, the Crimson dialed up the same play and although there has been plenty of debate to the legality of the play, Maple Grove recovered the kick again and capped the comeback with a Evan Hull touchdown run.
The game and the comeback made national news and will no doubt be talked about in Maple Grove for years.