North keeps soccer rivalry trophy

Adamson’s goal gives Panthers 1-0 victory over South

Lakeville North’s Logan Senne (25) and Lakeville South’s Ryan Lavallee compete for possession during Tuesday’s South Suburban Conference boys soccer game won by North 1-0. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com

Plenty of teams would have been thrilled to show up in the top 10 of the state preseason boys soccer poll.

Lakeville North’s boys, however, were less than thrilled to see themselves at No. 10. They thought it was too low.

“We were No. 10. (The poll voters) didn’t think we had it this year,” said senior defender Calvin Sprung, one of the Panthers’ captains. “We want to prove them wrong, be No. 1 and win state.”

North dropped out of the top 10 after a loss and tie in its first two games, but the rankings were the least of the Panthers’ concerns Tuesday night. They faced a Lakeville South team eager to finally win the crosstown rivalry game after not having done so since 2009.

North forward Silas Adamson scored the game’s only goal with less than 11 minutes remaining as the Panthers won on the road to extend their unbeaten streak over South to 11 games. Lakeville North is 10-0-1 against South since 2010, including three section playoff victories. North also retained the rivalry’s traveling trophy.

The game was to be played in late September, but scheduling conflicts forced it to be moved to the first day of school, not an ideal situation for either team.

“We had to find a day that worked for both of us and it was, OK, the first Tuesday of school,” North coach Peter Tyma said. “We told our guys there’s no better way to start your conference schedule than with your crosstown rival, who’s also a section opponent, and by the way it’s for a trophy you’ve been holding on to. So they really wanted it.”

Lakeville North (2-1-1 overall) got the test it was looking for from South (1-2), which Tyma said outplayed the Panthers at times. “The game showed us some things we have to work on, and the guys got that nervous energy, which is also a good thing,” Tyma said.

On the goal, North midfielder Mason Le sent a pass through toward Adamson, who barely outraced two South defenders to the ball and nudged it past Cougars goalie Ryan Mullenbach, who had come out of his net to challenge.

South had several scoring opportunities in the second half but the North defense held firm. “Our defense didn’t give up,” Sprung said. “We didn’t have very good offense today; we’ll work on that in practice. (South) had a screwup, we took advantage of it and scored.”

Defending South Suburban Conference champion Lakeville North went undefeated in the 2016 regular season. Its only loss was 2-0 to Owatonna in the Section 1AA semifinals. North has already played four potential section opponents this season, defeating Rochester Century (4-0) and Lakeville South, tying Owatonna 1-1 and losing to Rochester Mayo 1-0 in its season opener.

The coaches doing the preseason rankings might have noted the large number of seniors on Lakeville North’s 2016 roster.

“We knew we had a good group this year, but we’re replacing a lot of starters,” Tyma said. “We had eight starters graduate from last year’s team, so we knew we were going to have those bumps, those learning minutes. They’re talented and their character is second to none. It’s a quality group of guys. We put some challenges to them, and they’re ready to take those challenges.”

Perhaps no challenge is bigger than playing for two departed team members. Assistant coach Seamus Tritchler died of cancer last winter at age 53. Several weeks ago senior Joey Dokken, who would have been a candidate to start in goal for the Panthers, died suddenly.

The losses of Tritchler and Dokken made the Lakeville soccer trophy extra meaningful for North.

“It’s just honor,” Sprung said. “You look at the past, look at those scores (on the trophy), and you want to honor the boys who played before you. You want to win it for them. And today, we wanted to win it for Joey and Seamus. That was our main objective.”

Lakeville North plays at Apple Valley at 5 p.m. Thursday before going to a tournament in Wisconsin Dells on Friday and Saturday. Lakeville South is at Rosemount at 5 p.m. Thursday and plays host to Rochester Century in a non-conference game at 11 a.m. Saturday.

South girls starting fast

Lakeville South captain Bianca Biffert has six goals in the Cougars’ first four games. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com

Also absent from the state rankings are the Lakeville South girls, but that might not be for long if the Cougars keep playing as they did in their first four games. South won all four, outscoring opponents 13-1.

Lakeville South improved to 4-0 with a 1-0 victory at Chanhassen on Tuesday. Sophomore forward Grace Ruhl scored the goal with Bianca Biffert assisting.

Ruhl has a goal in each of the Cougars’ first four games. Biffert, a senior forward, has had an even hotter start with hat tricks in victories over Rochester Century and Rochester John Marshall, as well as three assists.

The Cougars will play their South Suburban Conference opener at Rosemount at 7 p.m. Thursday. The Irish, who were state Class AA runners-up in 2016, were first in the preseason state rankings but started 2-3, including consecutive losses to Duluth East, Mounds View and Stillwater. Rosemount defeated East Ridge 4-0 on Tuesday night.

The South girls’ next home game is 5 p.m. Tuesday, Sept. 12, against Eagan, currently fifth in the Class AA rankings.