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CI Hawks Win State Soccer Title

November 30, 2012
By Brett Kosidowski of Dakota United Athletics



One first, one second for Hawks

Both Dakota United teams play in adapted soccer title games

Joe Sandey of Dakota United dribbles past two Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville players during the state adapted soccer CI Division championship game. Sandey helped lead his team to the championship and was named to the all-tournament team. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

In adapted sports, winning is secondary to giving students an opportunity to compete.

That’s not to say that teams don’t strive to win, though.

After Dakota United’s CI Division team lost to Burnsville-Farmington-Lakeville for the second time in the regular season, it became clear that something had to change if the Hawks were to have any chance of winning the state adapted soccer championship.

The result was “a complete change in the way we played the last two weeks,” Hawks coach Tom Grothe said after his team defeated Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 6-1 in the state title game Saturday at Stillwater High School.

Dakota United, a co-op program that includes Apple Valley, Eagan, Eastview and Rosemount high schools, went into the state tournament as the second seed from the South Conference. Burnsville-Farmington-Lakeville, known as the Blazing Cats, was the No. 1 seed from the south, largely because of its two regular-season victories over the Hawks.

The second game, a 7-0 victory for the Blazing Cats, was a call to action for Dakota United.

“They smashed us,” Grothe said. “We knew we had to do something different. “(Assistant coach) Jill Ratts put in a new defense, and we’re really pleased with how it worked out.”

The Hawks had been using three forwards and three on defense early in the season before moving one of the forwards back to defense.

Dakota United allowed only three goals during the state tournament – one in each of its three games – to win the CI (cognitive impairments) Division championship for the second time overall and the first time since 2007.

“I think we just worked really hard,” said defender Travis Marsh, one of three seniors on the Dakota United roster. “It feels really good to win it in my last year.”

The Hawks defeated North Suburban 11-1 in the state quarterfinal round Friday, with Ricky Arends scoring five goals and Joe Sandey getting four goals and three assists.

Dakota United’s defense confounded Park Center, the No. 1 seed from the North Conference, in a 4-1 semifinal victory Saturday. Goalkeeper Ben Harmon made 11 saves, while Arends and Zach Wagner scored two goals each.

Dakota United was in control from the start in the championship game. Arends and Sandey each scored twice. Kennard Lyles and Andrew Brankey had one goal apiece.

The Hawks did not get a rematch with the Blazing Cats at the state tournament. The Blazing Cats lost to Mounds View/Irondale/Roseville 4-2 in the semifinals and went on to take third place.

Marsh, Arends and Sandey are the Hawks’ seniors.

“We think we have a chance to be back (at the state tournament), but those seniors are going to be very hard to replace,” Grothe said. “They are very good leaders. They were always on time to practice and always showed the younger kids what they should do.”

Sandey, Arends and Carl Fagre were named to the all-tournament team.

PI Division

Lantz Estep (left) of Dakota United celebrates after scoring a goal in the state adapted soccer PI Division championship game. Photo by Mike Shaughnessy

The two most dominant PI Division adapted soccer programs – Dakota United and Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound Westonka – also played for a state title. The Robins won their fifth consecutive championship by defeating Dakota United 5-2 in the state final Saturday afternoon.

Between them, the Robins and Hawks have won 10 of the last 12 PI (physical impairments) Division championships. Right now, Robbinsdale has a bit of an edge, Dakota United head coach Stacy Pfarr said.

“Numbers is probably their biggest advantage,” said Pfarr, whose team’s only loss was in the state championship game. “Experience, too. And I think the North Conference has been a little more competitive the last few years. Our kids, when they get to state, haven’t quite seen the competition the teams from the north have.”

Grayson Nicolay and Lantz Estep scored for Dakota United in the PI Division final. The Hawks edged Anoka-Hennepin 2-1 in the semifinals as Nicolay scored both goals and goalkeeper Anthony Vervais made 15 saves. Dakota United defeated Wayzata/Minnetonka 13-2 in a quarterfinal game as Nicolay had five goals and three assists.

Forwards Nicolay, Estep and Jaayson Meyer were named to the all-tournament team.

“I’m proud of what this team accomplished this year,” Pfarr said. “We had a lot of young players this year and now we have a lot more depth. I think we’ll be back next year.”


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