BY ROB LAPLANTE
When you open to page 64 of the 2012 state tournament official soccer program, it lists the number of state tournament appearances for each participating member. The Wayzata Trojans – the team with the most appearances – were making their 25th trip to state.
In contrast, the St. Michael-Albertville Knights were making only its second state tournament appearance and head coach Megan Johnson knew she had a tough draw in the opening round.
“We got here as a team and we were going to play them as a team,” Johnson said. “We went in believing.”
Right from the opening kick at, the defending Class AA champs took looked and played like a team that boasts three of the last four state titles. First-half goals from Wayzata stars Katie Schulz and Kylie Schwarz gave the Trojans a quick 2-0 lead, at a rainy St. Cloud State Husky Stadium.
Schwarz, one of 14 seniors on the roster, scored her 25th goal of the season on a wicked shot that sailed high over senior goalkeeper MiCale Jensen’s reach. Wayzata made it 3-0 on a corner kick shot that eluded Jensen’s grasp and Summer Johnson was there to pound it home. Schwarz would later score her second of the game with another bomb that went between the legs of Jensen.
The shots on goal in the opening 40 minutes were only 8-3 in favor of the Trojans, but the Knights spent pretty much the entire half defending.
“We came out a little shell-shocked,” Johnson said. “We had hope coming in. We wanted to give Wayzata a game, but this is how things went and they are an incredible team.”
The second half was more the same. Johnson scored her second goal of the game just 3:58 into the second half. Moments later, Schulz made it 6-0, scoring her second of the game.
Despite allowing a season-high six goals, Jensen made some huge saves and had a little help from the crossbar on a few scoring chances. Johnson said she was proud of the way her senior goalkeeper stood her ground.
“She made some incredible saves,” Johnson said. “She was hard on herself after and didn’t give herself enough credit. The score easily could have been 12 or 15 to zero.”
In fact, Wayzata’s six goals were the fewest they scored all post-season. They breezed to a 10-0 quarterfinal win over Robbinsdale Cooper. Followed that with an 8-1 win over St. Louis Park and defeated Hopkins 7-1 in the Section 6AA final.
STMA senior midfielder Jess Johnson, who earlier in the week was named to the All-State Team, said she was still proud of her teammates.
“We knew it would be tough. We knew coming in Wayzata’s been to state how many times,” said Jess, who will play soccer next season at Minnesota State-Moorhead. “We were ready to give it a good fight and we did. We only had one loss on the season and we had the best chemistry we’ve ever had. Just making the state tournament is incredible.”
The Knights finished the season with a 15-2-3 overall record. They won their second consecutive Mississippi 8 Conference title.
Johnson led the Knights this season with 83 shots, twice as many as the 41 posted each by senior Maddie Barr and sophomore Jordyn Walker. Johnson’s seven goals finished third best, behind Walkers’ team-high nine and eighth-grader Makenzie Langdok’s eight.
Jensen was the Knights top goalkeeper, posting an impressive 0.5 goals against average and her nine shutouts ranked her among the state’s goalkeeping leaders.