Red Knights repeat as Class A state champions

Allie Coughlin, defense player, had the most dramatic moment of the tournament when she accidentally cleated a Blake team member in the face.

With a 1-0 victory over The Blake School, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s Red Knights were named Class A state champions for the second year in a row. The lone goal in the game was scored by All-State sophomore Aleksa Tataryn in the 70th minute.

Both teams came into the game familiar with each other as it was the third straight year that the two teams had faced off in the championship game, but they had played each other earlier in the season and tied 1-1. “Playing against Blake is always a tough game, because they are our rival and a very good team. We know their strengths and they know ours as well so there aren’t any surprises,” Tataryn said.

The first half was dominated by the defenses as the Red Knights recorded the only two shots on goal for the half. “Blake wasn’t going to just hand us the win, we had to work harder than we had all season,” senior captain Megan Katopodis said.

In the second half, both offenses were able to create more opportunities on net, but neither team could find the scoreboard.

That all changed in the 70th minute when Aleksa Tataryn was given just enough space to get off a shot which rocketed into the top corner of the goal and gave the Red Knights the 1-0 lead. “I didn’t have much time to think but I knew that I had to take a shot, because I didn’t have very many chances,” Tataryn said.

There was still nine minutes left in the game and the Red Knights dropped their midfield back in order to preserve their lead and hold on for the victory. “All I was thinking about was not letting Blake score. I knew if they were given the chance that they would take advantage of it and possibly tie the game,” senior captain Katie Oppenheimer said.

Blake was unable to get a solid chance to tie the game and one final clearance by the Red Knights in the final seconds was all they needed to capture their second straight state title.

The Red Knights had four players named to the Class A All-Tournament team: Aleksa Tataryn, senior midfielder Megan Katopodis, junior midfielder Emma Van der Heide, and junior defender Emily Schmitz.

For the Red Knights, this is their second state title in program history and the seniors of the girls’ soccer team finish their career with 75 wins, only 5 losses, six ties, four state appearances, and two state titles. “We knew what we had to go out and do, and luckily we were able to come out with the win,” Katopodis said.