Undefeated Cougars take the lead in SSC
Lakeville Sud captain Connor Beauchamp said the players weren’t surprised by their quick start to men’s soccer.
Others probably didn’t have the same reaction regardless of the Cougars (10-0), who were one of three undefeated teams in Class 3A after beating Farmington 8-1 at home on Tuesday.
The south was 2-5-5 in the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. This has led to lower public expectations for this year’s squad – but not the players themselves.
“I was expecting us to have a pretty solid year because we had a lot of guys back from last year who were good,” said Beauchamp, a senior defenseman. “We had two other captains who came back (Loic Mesanvi and JP Hill) and a strong junior class.
“This year we have become much stronger off the pitch. It is a fraternity, which has allowed us to be much more successful. We are all going to work harder for each other. We are not playing for ourselves.
The Cougars’ success this season hasn’t necessarily come out of nowhere. When the last state tournament was held in 2019, Lakeville South was there, reaching the quarterfinals before losing to East Ridge. This year’s three Southern captains played for this team in their sophomore year.
Lakeville South, after starting the 2021 unranked season, rose to third in the state’s Class 3A poll. Maple Grove (11-0), one of the other two unbeaten, is ranked first. Minneapolis Southwest (7-0-2) is sixth.
Tuesday’s victory over Farmington also took the Cougars’ Southern Suburban Conference record to 6-0. They had a five-point lead over second-placed Lakeville North with three conference games to play.
One of the reasons the Cougars have the five-point lead is a 4-2 win at North on September 23. Lakeville North went undefeated last season and won the Section 3AA Championship, but the Minnesota State High School League held no state. tournament. Since last season, soccer has gone from two registration classes to three and South and North have been moved to the same section.
The North game was “a lot of pressure,” Beauchamp said. “We expected to win, but it’s a rivalry and it’s always a very emotional game. For us, going there and winning was really important.
Beauchamp, Mesanvi, Luke Faint and Andrew Sarych scored in the first half in the South to North victory which allowed the Cougars to take possession of the Lon Hitch Trophy, which goes to the winner of the men’s soccer matches between the Lakeville schools. .
Sarych scored a hat trick in the Farmington game, with Mesanvi and Garrett Johnson scoring two goals apiece. Kevin Hernandez also scored for the Cougars.
The Cougars’ offense has remained consistently productive. They have scored at least two goals in nine of their 10 games, except for a 1-0 victory over Class 3A, Section 1 rival Rochester Century on September 25.
Mesanvi is having a monster season with 16 goals and four assists in 10 games, although the Cougars have proven they have other players capable of scoring. Junior goaltender Zander Billins is 0.91 goals against average.
If the Cougars can stay the course, they will win the first men’s conference soccer championship in school history. They play at home against Eagan at 7 p.m. Thursday and Apple Valley at 5 p.m. on Monday, October 4.
Beauchamp said players understand the pressure to keep playing well will increase because opponents are aware of the Cougars record and state standings. But, he added, the players continue to surpass themselves as they have not yet achieved all of their goals.
“The goals were to start 3-0, then win the conference, win the section and win the state,” he said. “We are still on the same path. The goals are still there and we want to keep fighting for them.
A 1-0 victory for Lakeville South at Lakeville North on September 23 reshuffled the South Suburban Conference women’s soccer standings because North was alone in first place before the game.
There is now a three-way tie between North, Rosemount and Shakopee, all of whom are 5-1 in the conference after Tuesday’s action. North beat Rosemount 4-2 on September 16 and plays Shakopee at 7 p.m. on Monday October 4.
The win over North continued a resurgence for a Lakeville South team that were winless in their first six games. The Cougars now have four straight wins after beating Farmington 2-0 on Tuesday and emerged as a threat in the Class 3A, Section 1 playoffs. South won the Section 1AA Championship in 2020.
Avery Heinz scored Lakeville South’s only game against North from a penalty in the first half. Heinz has scored on three shots on goal in the last four games.
On Thursday, Lakeville South is at home against Eagan and Lakeville North hosts Eastview in the South Suburban Conference games which start at 5pm.