Fall seasons forge ahead, but will look different

The Rosemount girls soccer team practices Tuesday morning in preparation for its season opener at Lakeville South on Aug. 27.

South Suburban announces 11-game soccer schedule

South Suburban Conference soccer teams will play 11-game schedules consisting of league opponents, according to a conference schedule released last week.

Soccer is one of several fall sports (cross country, girls tennis and girls swimming and diving are the others) allowed to proceed as scheduled by the Minnesota State High School League. The football and volleyball seasons will be delayed until at least March because of COVID-19-related concerns, the MSHSL board of directors decided Aug. 4.

One of the restrictions placed on soccer is an 11-game limit to the regular season, down from the usual 16. In the South Suburban, it means every team in the conference will play each of the other teams at least once. Each team will play two games against SSC opponents that won’t count in the league standings.

The opening day of the 2020 SSC soccer schedule is Thursday, Aug. 27, and will feature a girls game between Lakeville South and Rosemount, two state Class AA tournament qualifiers in 2019. The game will be 5 p.m. at Lakeville South High School. Rosemount was 18-3-1 last season and finished third in the state tournament, while Lakeville South was 15-2-2. Rosemount and Lakeville South finished first and second in the South Suburban last year.

Other South Suburban opening-day girls matchups Aug. 27 include Eagan at Shakopee, Prior Lake at Lakeville North, Burnsville at Eastview and Farmington at Apple Valley, with all games starting at 5 p.m. Those are followed by boys games matching the same teams at the same locations, beginning at 7 p.m.

Here’s the kicker – the same teams that played Aug. 27 will meet again two days later on Saturday, Aug. 29, with the team that was home the first game being the visiting team for the rematch. The Aug. 29 doubleheaders start with boys games at 1 p.m. and girls games at 3. The Aug. 27 games will count in the South Suburban standings, with the Aug. 29 games being considered non-conference.

The same thing will take place the first week of September, with South Suburban teams playing home-and-home series Wednesday, Sept. 2, and Friday, Sept. 4. The Sept. 2 games are conference games and the Sept. 4 games are non-conference.

Under MSHSL guidelines for this season, high school varsity soccer teams are limited to two games per week.

The full South Suburban Conference soccer schedule is available at southsuburbanconference.org. The league schedule concludes Oct. 1, with some kind of postseason expected to follow. The MSHSL has not yet announced postseason formats for any fall sports, although it has mandated the soccer season to end Oct. 24.

Girls tennis

South Suburban girls tennis begins Tuesday, Aug. 25, with five league matches. MSHSL rules limit teams to 11 contests – all dual meets, no invitationals. But the schedule will allow for a full conference round-robin while leaving room for two non-conference matches that are expected to be against “local” opponents. Like soccer, the format for a girls tennis postseason has not been announced, but the season must conclude by Oct. 17.

Aug. 25 matches in SSC girls tennis are Eastview at Burnsville, Lakeville South at Rosemount, Farmington at Apple Valley, Prior Lake at Lakeville North and Shakopee at Eagan. All matches will start between 3:30 and 4 p.m.

Girls swimming and diving

Swimming and diving are subject to many of the same restrictions as soccer and tennis – a maximum of 11 contests, all dual meets. And there’s one wrinkle unique to swimming - during the regular season South Suburban teams will never see their opponents in person. Dual meets will be virtual, with each team swimming in its own home pool and times and diving scores compared later to determine winners.

The dual meet season for SSC girl swimming starts Friday, Aug. 28, with Lakeville South against Burnsville, Farmington against Lakeville North, Shakopee against Eastview, Rosemount against Eagan and Apple Valley against Prior Lake. All meets start at 6 p.m.

The conference dual meet season ends Oct. 9, and the MSHSL-mandated end of the season is Oct. 31. No postseason format has been announced.

Cross country

Cross country teams started practice Monday, but details of a revamped South Suburban schedule were still being worked out. Teams will be restricted to seven contests, and each meet can consist of two or three teams. That means large regular-season meets such as Rosemount’s Irish Invitational, typically held the Friday before Labor Day, likely are on a one-year hiatus.

Cross country competitions can begin Aug. 27, with teams limited to no more than two per week and no more than seven in the regular season. The postseason format is to be determined.

Spectators

Procedures for allowing spectators still are being worked out, although it’s believed fans will be able to attend events such as soccer games, cross country meets and tennis matches provided they comply with Minnesota Department of Health rules governing outdoor gatherings.

The MSHSL determined earlier this month that if visitors aren’t allowed in school buildings during the day, they won’t be permitted at events in those buildings in the evening. Therefore, barring a change in policy, swimming and diving meets are expected to go without spectators this fall.

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