North girls take dip before playoffs

Panthers suffer rare three-game winless streak

After a brilliant start, the Lakeville North girls soccer team has hit a rough patch.

Following a 2-0 victory on Sept. 20 over Burnsville, which was ranked No. 2 in Class AA at the time, the Panthers were 12-0 and had allowed just two goals all season.

Any hopes of finishing undefeated vanished on Sept. 22 in a 1-0 loss to Blake, the No. 1 ranked team in 1A.

“We couldn’t capitalize on our opportunities,” coach Bulut Ozturk said. “We had close to 20 corner kicks and around five to seven free kicks that we were unable to execute. To Blake’s credit, they defended very well and were able to make a push for it on a counter-attack with one minute left in the game.

“I hope the girls learned that we have to play each game with high intensity and have the urgency to put teams away in the first half.”

The girls tied Eastview 1-1 on Sept. 27.

“Eastview is a great team,” Ozturk said. “They have a lot of speed and can hit you on the counter-attack at any second. We had our fair share of opportunities against them. I believe we had the better opportunities in the second half, but their keeper came up with some incredible saves.”

The Lightning entered the game ranked No. 1 in Class AA, a spot Lakeville North had the week before losing to Blake.

“I wasn’t disappointed with a tie,” Ozturk said. “However, my girls were not very happy.”

More worrisome was a 1-1 tie Tuesday against Bloomington Jefferson, a team with just three victories and coming off a six-game losing streak.

The tie set up a showdown for the South Suburban Conference title Thursday against Prior Lake. The result was unavailable when this edition went to press.

The Panthers finish the regular season with a trip to Rochester Mayo, a key Section 1AA opponent, on Saturday, with playoffs beginning Oct. 11.

The Panthers have the best record of any Section 1AA team, but the section appears to have a tough field this season.

Farmington (10-3-2) and Owatonna (11-2-1) each have several quality victories and Lakeville South (7-7-1) won’t be an easy out. Lakeville North did beat all three in the regular season.

“I believe Owatonna and Farmington have quality teams,” Ozturk said. “Lakeville South can step up at any moment and I think they are waiting to do just that during playoffs. We have a lot of respect for our opponents and will not take anyone lightly.”

Panther boys

Since starting the season with a 7-1-1 record, the Lakeville North boys soccer team has struggled.

Lakeville North was on a six-game winless streak after falling to Bloomington Jefferson 3-1 on Tuesday.

The Panthers lost to top-ranked Apple Valley, No. 6 Eastview, Northfield and East Ridge during the winless stretch and tied Burnsville 1-1 during.

The good news is several of the boys’ early season victories have come against Section 1AA opponents.

The Section 1AA tournament begins Oct. 11. Defending section champion Rochester Mayo (10-4), Farmington (8-6-1) and Owatonna (9-3-2) are on the upswing, but Lakeville North beat all three during the regular season.

The favorite figures to be Northfield (11-2), which handed the Panthers a 5-1 loss on Sept. 24.

Cougar girls

After suffering a tough stretch through mid-September where it lost four of five, the Lakeville South girls soccer team has turned things around, winning three in a row to get back to .500.

The team defeated Bloomington Kennedy 4-0 on Tuesday. Rachel Mickelson had a hand in all three scores with a goal and two assists. Emma Mickelson and Emmalee Kroll scored the other goals.

The girls also topped Bloomington Jefferson 3-1 and Chaska 2-0.

The Cougars have brought a .500 record to the playoffs before and found success. In 2010, South entered the Section 1AA tournament with a 6-8-3 record after suffering a five-game losing streak at the end of the regular season. The girls went on to win the section title and play at the Class AA state tournament.

Cougar boys

Since winning the season opener 1-0 against Rochester John Marshall, it’s been a tough go for the Cougars, who then lost 14 in a row.

The latest came on Tuesday against Bloomington Kennedy falling 4-0.

Lakeville South had one-goal losses to Rochester Mayo, Lakeville North, Owatonna, Rochester Century and Chaska during the streak.