There are fall traditions everyone adheres to: hitting your favorite apple orchard, carving pumpkins for Halloween, even catching a Gopher game at the new stadium.
For Megan Johnson and the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ soccer team, it’s playing the Section Championship game.
The Knights capped off an amazing evening of soccer in St. Michael by clinging to a 2-1 win over Elk River Saturday, clinching their fifth section championship appearance in the last six years. And while it hasn’t all been roses for Johnson (two shootout losses and an overtime loss to go with a section championship two years ago), the coach has getting to the “big game” down pat.
St. Michael-Albertville used fundamental soccer to control the first half of pace and scored twice, putting themselves in command after 40 minutes of play. Elk River scored once, with 18 minutes remaining in regular time, but couldn’t capitalize on a late chance and the Knights advance.
They’ll square off at 7 p.m. Tuesday with Rogers, a team that outlasted them two weeks ago for a 1-0 win after scoring on a set piece in the second half. The Knights know their rival well, and know that this is a bigger game, of course, than the first time around.
“You always know when you play them you’re going to get their best, so you have to step it up. A championship game – section or conference – won’t be much different,” said junior Leah Johnson. “You play with a bit of an edge.”
The two teams will battle under the lights at 7 p.m. at Rogers High School (the football field doubles as a soccer stadium) on Tuesday night. The winner advances to the quarterfinal round of the Class AA State Tournament, with location and opponent to be determined later this week.
Swim Team Knocks True Team Out of the Pool
St. Michael-Albertville’s girls swim team finished more than 30 points ahead of its seeding, and knocked off Brainerd en route to second place at the Section 8-2A True Team swim meet, held last weekend.
The Knights upended Brainerd by more than 65 points, and fell just short of a heavily favored, deep Maple Grove squad that walked away with the Section Championship.
STMA’s mix of youth and experience led them to top places in all three phases of the meet – sprints, distances and relays.
No swimmer captured a Section Title – the 200-free relay team of Maddie Gallagher, Lexi Heil, Julia Pieper and Ashley Storm came closest with a runner-up spot, but the Knights used their depth to earn the trophy.
“It really is a good mix. We have a group of captains that shows great leadership, both by example and by working with the girls. And we have some up-and-coming swimmers who are performing very well as the season comes along,” said coach Greg Swenson.
The Knights have a shot at the Mississippi 8 Conference Championship when they meet in Chisago Lakes on Tuesday, October 14 at 6 pm. A victory in that matchup would ensure the team their 3rd consecutive Conference Championship.
Results for Section 8AA True Team:
1. Maple Grove (1137)
2. St. Michael-Albertville (1080)
3. Brainerd (953)
4. Elk River (858)
5. Buffalo (701)
6. St. Cloud Tech (628)
7. Rogers (623)
Summary of the Knights meet results:
200 Medley Relay
4 – Kristina Swenson, Julia Pieper, Kristin Pieper, Maddie Gallagher
6 – Kelsey Kocon, Maddie Westendorp, Taylor Pehrson, Jordyn Schnell
12 – Hannah VanHoorik, Ashton Hobza, Maddie Konsor, Robyn Ferrian
6 – Taylor Pehrson
13 – Ashley Storm
15 – Sarah Mulder
23 – Lily Roberts
3 – Julia Pieper
8 – Kelsey Kocon
11 – Jenna Kocon
16 – Ashton Hobza
6 – Lexi Heil
Tied for 7 – Ashley Storm and Jordyn Schnell
21 – Hannah VanHoorik
7 – Bella Baldwin
8 – Therese Chambers
12 – Olivia Lock
13 – Nicole Kyono
3 – Kristina Swenson
9 – Taylor Pehrson
12 – Kristin Pieper
24 – Maddie Konsor
4 – Maddie Gallagher
5 – Lexi Heil
14 – Robyn Ferrian
4 – Jordyn Schnell
9 – Sarah Mulder
11 – Ashton Hobza
20 – Madison Gondreau
200 Free Relay
2 – Maddie Gallagher, Lexi Heil, Julia Pieper, Ashley Storm
7 – Kelsey Kocon, Jenna Kocon, Ashton Hobza, Kristin Pieper
14 – Robyn Ferrian, Hannah VanHoorik, Maddie Westendorp, Mackenzi Steichen
16 – Hailee Williams, Madison Gondreau, Maddie Konsor, Maddie Smiley
5 – Kristina Swenson
9 – Kelsey Kocon
11 – Jenna Kocon
16 – Ava Stende
2 – Julia Pieper
11 – Maddie Westendorp
20 – Madison Jurkovski
23 – Lily Roberts
400 Free Relay
1 – Maddie Gallagher, Jordyn Schnell, Lexi Heil, Taylor Pehrson
5 – Jenna Kocon, Kristina Swenson, Ashley Storm, Kristin Pieper
12 – Mackenzi Steichen, Maddie Smiley, Sarah Mulder, Robyn Ferrian
13 – Madison Gondreau, Hannah VanHoorik, Hailee Williams, Lily Roberts