By Bob San
Osseo-Maple Grove Sports
Maple Grove girls’ soccer coach Ben LeVahn was confident entering last week’s Section 5 championship game against No. 1 ranked Mounds View. Sure, the Crimson had lost 4-0 to the Mustangs during the regular season but the Crimson were coming off an inspired 2-1 upset over Centennial, which had defeated them 4-0 during the regular season.
“It was a great turnaround from the first game, but we felt like we hadn’t shown what we were capable of doing and had something to prove,” LeVahn said of the Centennial game. “The team executed a game plan like no team I have ever had and individual players stepped up big time, as well as a collective group defensive effort. That is our feeling for Mounds View as well. We were in the game, but they capitalized on mistakes and we didn’t. We need to play cleaner soccer and take care of our chances.”
The Crimson carried the game plan almost to perfect but fell just short in the final. They gave the Mustangs all they could handle and kept Mounds View off the scoreboard behind the solid play of senior goalie Casey Autey and the defense.
“The girls played a fantastic game. We had some specific adjustments and game planning that we did to prepare for our second go-around with Mounds View, also some personnel adjustments based on the last game and some injuries that we had at positions. We knew it would be a tough task as they were a high powered offense and a stingy defense, but we felt very confident based on what we knew of our abilities and game plan,” LeVahn said. “We played well and executed our game plan well, shutting down their main offensive players and their game flow while being able to execute our own.”
The game was tied 0-0 late and overtime looked imminent until Mounds View scored on a header off a cross with one minute left to play. The Mustangs held on to win 1-0 and denied Maple Grove its first state tournament berth.
The Crimson finished the season with a 10-2-6 record. They lose seniors in Autey, Samantha Landeis,Lauren Schwarzrock, Natalie Engel, Amanda Travis, Samantha Boonstra, Michelle Jancaric and Laryssa McLouth.
“We had a critical turnover in the offensive third that could have led to a scoring chance that turned and led to the Mustangs attacking the corner,” LeVahn said. “It was deflating, after playing so well against the #1 team to have it yanked out like that, but the girls were strong and respectful. I was really proud of how they came together and sold-out for each other, especially in the playoffs.”