State tourney returns this week after two-year absence

Dakota United will seek its ninth PI Division championship at the state adapted soccer tournament this weekend at Stillwater High School.

The Hawks’ most recent state title came in 2019, which also makes them defending champions because of the unscheduled two-year break between state tournaments caused by the pandemic.

This year’s PI (physical impairments) Division tournament has six teams instead of the customary eight because of a shortage of programs. Dakota United (6-0) is the No. 1 seed and will play the winner of a first-round game between Rochester and Minneapolis South at 10:30 a.m. Saturday. The championship game is 2:30 p.m. Saturday.

Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka, also unbeaten at 5-0, is the No. 2 seed. The Robins were in 10 consecutive state championship games from 2008 through 2017, winning seven of them. Dakota United has won eight state PI Division championships since the Minnesota State High School League began sponsoring an adapted soccer tournament in 1993, including two of the last three.

The Hawks’ top player is senior forward Sam Gerten, who scored all five of his team’s goals when Dakota United defeated St. Paul Humboldt 5-2 in the 2019 state final.

CI Division

Dakota United and Lakeville/Burnsville/Farmington will have teams in the CI (cognitive impairments) Division adapted soccer tournament, also scheduled this weekend in Stillwater.

The Lakeville/Burnsville/Farmington co-op, nicknamed the Blazing Cats, went undefeated in six games, outscoring opponents 98-6. The Blazing Cats are the No. 1 seed from the South Conference and will play Stillwater (3-1-4) in a quarterfinal game at 6:30 p.m. Friday.

Dakota United (6-1-1) plays 2019 state champion South Washington County (3-5) in the quarterfinals, also at 6:30 p.m. Dakota United’s only regular-season loss was 5-1 to Lakeville/Burnsville/Farmington on Oct. 25.

Park Center (8-0) is the No. 1 seed from the North Conference. The CI Division championship game will be 4 p.m. Saturday.

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