Girls soccer team advances to State finals

Cheering students worked to create a lively fan section at the game.

For the third consecutive year, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s girls soccer team will play in the Class A title game, where they will face the Blake Bears. The Red Knights defeated Mankato West 5-1 in the semifinal to advance to the championship game.

Mankato West came into the state tournament unranked, but defeated La Crescent in their quarterfinal matchup, 5-2, to advance to the semifinals. The Red Knights defeated Duluth Denfeld 1-0 in their quarterfinal matchup, where the Red Knights outshot the Rangers 21-0, to advance to the semifinals.

“We knew we could beat them, but also knew just being ranked as the better team wasn’t going to cut it. We had to prove that we were the better team,” senior captain Megan Katopodis said.

Sophomore forward Aleska Tataryn opened the game’s scoring for the Red Knights with a goal four minutes into the game that gave the Red Knights the early lead. Junior midfielder Emma Van der Heide scored her second goal of the state tournament with nine minutes remaining in the first half to give the Red Knights a 2-0 halftime lead.

The lead could have been more if not for Scarlet’s goalie Kathy Lauer, who had five saves in the first half, but also for the woodwork which denied the Red Knights a goal three times in the first half.

To start the second half, three quick goals by seniors Kelly Pannek and Katie Oppenheimer and junior Jordan Maddaus extended the Red Knights lead to five mere minutes into the second half. “We knew we had, had a few opportunities that didn’t go in that probably should have, but also knew we’d be able to make more chances in the next half,” Katopodis said.

Mankato West would score their lone goal of the game on a free kick from senior captain, and All-State member, Madison Burandt that sailed over the outstretched arms of goalie Angela Charley.

Most of the final twenty minutes was played by the Red Knights’ reserves as head coach Scott Heiling-Christy elected to rest his starters for Thursday’s matchup with Blake.

All-State selection Aleska Tataryn collected a goal and three assists in the victory while five different Red Knights found their way into the scorebook. The Red Knights recorded 23 shots for the entire game and held a 16-0 shots advantage after the first half. “Knowing that we had won the first half gave us more motivation to win the second half,” Tataryn said.

With the victory, the Red Knights will advance to the state championship game for the third year in a row and are looking to become repeat Class A state champions. “Being the defending state champs and going against Blake makes this game so much more intense” Tataryn said.

The Red Knights will face a familiar opponent in the championship game; The Blake School. The two schools have faced off in the Class A final the past two seasons and played to a 1-1 draw earlier this season.

“We’ve made it to the State Championship game, which is an amazing accomplishment, but it’s not our team goal. Our team goal to to win State, which hopefully we’ll be able to do on Thursday,” said Katopodis.