PI Division team outscores state opponents 32-3

Judging by the way Dakota United rolled through the state adapted soccer PI Division tournament, it’s difficult to imagine the Hawks were shorthanded.

But they were. Playing without one of their key defensive players, the Hawks still allowed just three goals in three games last weekend at Stillwater High School. Their 5-2 victory over defending champion St. Paul Humboldt in Saturday afternoon’s final gave Dakota United its eighth state title and second in three years.

Dakota United is not a stranger to championship games; this year was the sixth time since 2010 it has reached the PI Division final. Succeeding at that stage of the tournament takes what Hawks coach Lorrie Buecksler said she got from her players – a determined, all-out effort.

“Every single one of our players was on this weekend in every game they played, and that was crucial, that was key,” Buecksler said. “Humboldt is amazing. They’re a great team.”

Dakota United, which finished 14-1, played Humboldt four times this season, winning three. Of course, that means Humboldt also handed Dakota United its only loss, which happened during one of the teams’ three regular-season meetings. That fact made some of her players nervous, Buecksler said, because “every one of those games was close.”

But Humboldt couldn’t counter Hawks sophomore forward Samuel Gerten. Then again, nobody else in the state tourney could, either. Gerten, who had an eight-point game in Dakota United’s state quarterfinal victory, scored all five of his team’s goals in the final.

In the first half, Gerten stole a Humboldt clearing attempt and shot the ball through the goalkeeper’s legs to put the Hawks ahead to stay at 2-1.

“I usually set a goal for him,” Buecksler said. “Today’s goal was, let’s see how fast you can get three on the board, and he said, ‘Wait, do you want me to pass or do you want me to shoot?’ I said, ‘Let’s just see how fast our team can get three on the board.’ ”

It turns out it took less than 15 minutes. Gerten added a fourth goal later in the first half and scored again to make it 5-1 with 12 minutes, 53 seconds remaining.

Meanwhile, the Dakota United defense was providing airtight play, even without starter Will Davidson, who missed the state tournament because of an illness. As the team’s sweeper, one of Davidson’s duties it to create a speedy transition from defense to offense. “He’s been our rock all season as a sweeper,” Buecksler said.

The Hawks rotated in Gabrielle Stahl, Edward Nelson and Cooper Wilson at Davidson’s sweeper position. “They also rotated in up front because they’re all able to score,” Buecksler said. “They all have a really well-rounded ability to play this game.”

Dakota United senior goalkeeper Blake Jackson allowed just three goals in three games, including a shutout in the quarterfinal round. He was one of three Hawks players named to the all-tournament team, along with Gerten and Wilson.

“When Blake is in the net I’m confident at all times,” Buecksler said. “Our wheelchair athletes in position are a good first line of defense for Blake. As soon as the ball is anywhere near him, he’s got it in his arms and wraps it up.”

Fiona Sitzmann scored three goals and Nelson two in Dakota United’s 8-1 victory over Minneapolis South in the semifinals Saturday morning.

On Friday night, Gerten scored the first goal in the Hawks’ quarterfinal game against Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville. He then turned playmaker, assisting on seven other Dakota United goals in a 19-0 victory.

Wilson had four goals and two assists in the first-round game. Seventh-grader Keivan Galaviz also had four goals, and Hayden Hedegaard scored three times. Sitzmann, Reece Martin and Anjaleek Conner each had two goals, and Jack Cahn scored once.

Dominik Albus, Alejandro Jorgenson, Isabelle Menne and Daniel Sonnenberg also play for Dakota United, where the PI Division team includes students from Apple Valley, Eagan, Eastview, Lakeville North, Lakeville South and Rosemount high schools. Conner, Jackson, Menne and Wilson are seniors.

Giving students opportunities to compete in athletics and be on a team is the guiding principle of adapted athletics. But you’ll still see players with a competitive streak.

“We have individuals who on a (competitiveness) scale of 1 to 10 are about a 12,” Buecksler said. “We also have some who just really love being on the team. Even those kids, they want to play well and take their turn helping the team out.

“You can have phenomenal players, but if you don’t have nice kids it’s not all that much fun to coach. These guys are all such nice kids, great at practice and great at games.”

CI Division

South Washington County defeated Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee 3-1 in the CI Division championship game Saturday afternoon. Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville placed fourth and Dakota United was fifth.

Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville defeated defending champion St. Cloud 7-3 in the first round before back-to-back losses to Chaska and South Suburban ended the Blazing Cats’ season at 8-3-2.

Blazing Cats junior forward Natalya Rawley scored four goals, three in the first half, against St. Cloud. Miller Hertaus, Caden Roseth and Jacob Wallace also scored, and Roseth, Cail VanGrevenhof and Riley Deutsch had assists.

Hertaus and Wallace had the Blazing Cats’ goals in a 4-2 semifinal loss to Chaska/Chanhassen/Prior Lake/Shakopee on Saturday. Caleb Garvin scored twice and Hertaus once in the third-place game, where the Blazing Cats fell to South Suburban 5-3.

Dakota United (8-4) won its final two state tournament games to earn the consolation trophy. Eventual champion South Washington County defeated the Hawks 7-0 in the opening round. Dakota United extended its stay in the tourney with a 5-2 victory over Park Center in the consolation semifinals as Greidin Corley scored twice. Masen Luczynski, Ben Dilley and Cloe Kraus also scored for the Hawks, and Ashton Parupsky had two assists.

Thomas Christopherson, Parupsky and Corley scored as Dakota United defeated St. Cloud 3-0 in Saturday’s consolation final.

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