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Soccer: Hill-Murray sends both boys and girls soccer squads to state tournament action
Soccer fever has taken over Hill-Murray High School this October. Last week in Section 4A playoff action, the school’s girls and boys teams qualified for the Minnesota Class A state tournaments.
Schaefer and Bottum lead boys to state
The Hill-Murray boys soccer program - under the direction of head coach Matt Weingartz - is returning to the state tournament for the first time since Weingartz guided the Pioneers to the classic in 2007.
In its history, Hill-Murray has made four trips to the Minnesota State Boys Soccer Tournament. The Pioneers also made the journey in 1983 - when they placed second - and in 1986.
Leading the Hill-Murray boys into the Class A tournament will be senior co-captain and goalie Joe Schaefer.
Schaefer’s outstanding defensive skills led the Pioneers to a record of 11-4-3. In the Classic Suburban Conference, the Pioneers finished second with a mark of 6-1-3 behind conference-winner North High (9-1). North’s only CSC loss came at the hands of Hill-Murray in a 1-0 setback on Sept. 3.
Supplementing Schaefer up front will be co-captain Shae Bottum, the team’s leading scorer. In the 18 games so far, Bottum led Hill-Murray with 19 points on 14 goals and five assists.
“We hope to utilize our good balance and team work ethics, along with good team chemistry to lead us to success in the tournament,” Weingartz said.
To gain a berth in the Class A tournament, the Pioneers - seeded No. 1 in Section 4A - downed South St. Paul (ninth seed) 4-1; Mounds Park Academy (fourth) 2-1; and Harding (eighth) 3-0.
The Hill-Murray boys are seeded third in the state tournament. Their opening game will take place at 5:30 p.m. Friday, Oct. 25, against Totino-Grace (10-10-0) at the Chisago Lakes High School Field.
The winner will advance to a 2 p.m. Monday, Oct. 28, contest at the Metrodome against either Waconia or Hermantown.
The Class A championship game will be played at the Metrodome at 12:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 31.
Girls have “good chemistry”
The Hill-Murray girls soccer team - seeded second in Section 4A - advanced to the Minnesota State Class A Tournament by whipping Mounds Park Academy (seeded seventh) 5-0; New Life Academy (third) 5-2; and South St. Paul (first) 3-2. The game with the Packers went into overtime before it was decided.
Hill-Murray head coach Simbo N’diaye has been a teacher at Hill-Murray for seven years, but this is his first year at the helm of the girls soccer program.
N’diaye stated, “We have always put forth a good, hard effort. The girls play hard for and respect one another.
“There is very good rapport on our team. We just have very good team chemistry.”
The Pioneers finished fourth in Classic Suburban Conference play with a mark of 5-3-1. They were behind Mahtomedi (10-0-0), Henry Sibley (7-2-1) and South St. Paul 6-4-0).
Overall, the Pioneers completed the regular season with a record of 8-6-1.
Leading point-producer for Hill-Murray heading to the state tourney is Julianna Gernes, who has scored 34 points on 28 goals and six assists.
This is the Pioneers’ first trip to the state tournament in 26 years. The last time the Hill-Murray girls went to “State” was 1987. They also made trips to the state tournament in 1983 and 1984.
Fifth-seed Hill-Murray (11-6-1) will open play at 7:30 p.m., Thursday, Oct. 24, at St. Cloud State University against fourth-seeded Totino-Grace (12-4-4).
The winners of the first day of competition will advance to the Metrodome. If the Pioneers win the first game against the Eagles, they will play at 8 a.m., Monday, Oct. 28, and face either Blake (first seed) or Sartell.