Rebels take positives out of injury-riddled girls soccer season

Team falls in shootout to Roseville in Section 5AA girls soccer tournament

The record was nothing to gloat about, and it resulted in a No. 6 seed for the Champlin Park girls soccer team in the Section 5AA playoffs.

Champlin Park junior Sarah Watson runs up field in a game at Coon Rapids earlier this season. The Rebels had their season end in a shootout loss to Roseville Oct. 9 (Photo by Bill Jones – ABC Newspapers) .

Champlin Park junior Sarah Watson runs up field in a game at Coon Rapids earlier this season. The Rebels had their season end in a shootout loss to Roseville Oct. 9 (Photo by Bill Jones – ABC Newspapers)

But don’t tell any of that to third-seeded Roseville.

Despite entering the postseason with just a 2-11-3 overall record, the Rebels nearly sent Roseville home for the year, pushing the Raiders into a shootout before finally succumbing in a highly tensed conclusion Oct. 9.

“We played so well,” said first-year Champlin Park head coach Rebecca Noonan. “We outplayed them the whole game, we just couldn’t finish. We had 27 shots on goal, and nothing went in.”

Those 27 shots fired didn’t include Champlin Park’s shootout attempts. The Rebels had seven tries in the sudden-death finish, but would score on only four of them, as Roseville snuck out with a 5-4 victory in the shootout.

Up until then, goals were at a premium, as neither team scored in either half, before playing back-to-back overtimes without a goal.

The best of the chances throughout the night went to the Rebels, who owned possession time in the first half and both overtime periods.

Their play was a stark contrast to what the team experienced much of the season, but with an injury-riddled line-up most of the year, the lack of victories wasn’t unexpected.

At one point, eight starters were out. At once. That even caught Champlin Park trainer Angie Szumowski’s attention.

“I’ve been at this a while now, and I’ve never had that many starters from one team in my training room,” Szumowski said. “It was really remarkable.”

The offsetting plus for Noonan was the injuries offered her a chance to play countless others in situations they generally wouldn’t see.

It didn’t do much for the record, but it did plenty to for the girls that will be back next year.

“A lot of players got to play, and that will be huge moving forward,” Noonan said. “They needed to get some experience. It’s unfortunate how it happened, but we’ll take the positives out of it.”

In all, 10 seniors will graduate off this year’s team. That leaves a dozen girls from the varsity roster returning next year, including seven of the team’s top-nine scorers from this season.

“Our whole front line is coming back, and some of our best players from the middle and back will return as well,” Noonan said. “There is a lot to be excited about.”

 

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