St. Michael-Albertville Soccer Teams Begin March to State Tournament

The boys' and girls' teams, both fresh off of conference title campaigns, begin the postseason tonight at home.

It has been more than a month since either the St. Michael-Albertville girls or boys soccer team has tasted defeat. 

Neither team expects that to change for the next two weeks, as the Knights' soccer programs look to take it one step farther this season and qualify for the State 2A Soccer Tournament. 

For the girls, it's been back-to-back seasons of disappointment, falling in the championship game by a goal on two occaisions now, both times holding a lead in the final match. 

For the boys, it's a shot at redemption, and a shot to do something new. 

Both teams have been extremely solid since performances both coaches called "letdowns" the weekend after school started. 

Both squads, ironically, lost to rival Buffalo. Both would avenge those losses, the girls with a win to put a bow on a championship season, the boys with a tie to clinch the conference crown. 

Now, the girls will host the entire Section 8-2A tournament as the No. 1 seed, playing at home as long as they stay alive. The campaign starts against St. Cloud Tech tonight at 5:30 p.m. under the lights at the Community Education Center field. 

"If you win in the regular season, you don't have to worry about where that last game is going to be. Winning at Anoka is tough, then you put that kind of pressure of a win-or-go-home behind it and it's even harders," said head coach Megan Johnson of her girls' team. "It will be nice to be in our backyard." 

The girls topped Tech 1-0 back in August, when the team was "just beginning to jell," Johnson said. Now, the squad has a solid defense with a year's worth of experience, and players like Maddie Barr and Makenzie Langdok to lead the offensive attack, both veterans of last year's run. 

A win means the Knights will host either Moorhead or Brainerd Saturday. Game time would be 1 or 7 p.m. depending on who advances on both sides of the bracket. 

For the boys, it's a match vs. Anoka at 7 p.m tonight. The Knights and "twisters" haven't faced each other this season, but STMA has been clicking on all cylinders since captain and leading scorer Just McLain came back from a foot injury. 

Related: Star Tribune features Justin McLain as one of metro's best scorers.

The Knights are more than a one-man show, despite McLain's second straight 20-goal season. Winn Nyanseor has proven to be a leader in the middle, and Cory Kackman has been a solid running mate for McLain. The offense is averaging more than three goals per game, enough to make up for any inconsistencies the Knights have shown on defense. 

"We'd like to tighten up back there, and control the ball a little bit better," said head coach Darek Dewey. "Control is going to be the key to playoff soccer." 

A win for the third-seeded Knights would mean a Saturday date with either Elk River (the No. 2 seed) or Rogers. STMA lost to the Elks back in September by a 1-0 margin in overtime on a set play. The Knights have dominated the Royals so far this year. 

Game time would be 1 or 7 p.m., depending on who advances today. 






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