After two consecutive state titles, the girls soccer team reflects


Meghan Ortizcazarin

The BSM girls’ soccer team will look to continue to be title contenders without their superstar trio of senior captains, whom they have relied on over the past four seasons.

For two years in a row, when the clock read the zero and the crowds’ cheers filled the Metrodome, the Red Knights girls’ soccer team had claimed the Class A state title. While the team will pursue a third consecutive title next year, the team will be without this year’s three senior captains, Kelly Pannek, Megan Katopodis, and Katie Oppenheimer, who have seen been on the varsity roster since freshman year and a part of two state titles.

As freshmen, all three were on the varsity roster and undefeated going into State; the team showed the potential to become State Champions; until they were upset by Chisago Lakes in the quarterfinal. “I was scared out of my mind because the girls all had high expectations and never wanted to lose,” Katopodis said.

The team returned to State their sophomore year and all three held starting spots on the team. “We had to step up and take bigger roles on the team. Even though I started freshman year, starting sophomore year, I felt like I had more responsibility sophomore year,” Pannek said.

However, the Red Knights suffered their only loss of the season to the Blake Bears in the State Championship game and, once again, had come short of their goal of winning a State Championship.

After another undefeated regular season as juniors, the Red Knights advanced to the State Championship game and knew they had a chance to win the first state championship in school history. “Having lost sophomore year and having had big upsets the years before, we knew our junior year was the year to win it all. We had a great team, full of talented players, so we knew we were fully capable of doing it,” Katopodis said.

On Dana Buckhorn’s game-winning free kick in overtime, the Red Knights had won the program’s first state title.

Going into their final year, Katie Oppenheimer, Kelly Pannek, and Megan Katopodis were named the team’s three captains and understood the responsibilities ahead of not just being leaders, but defending their state title.

“At the beginning of the season, we set a list of goals. Each goal led up to winning the State Championship again. We always reminded the teammates that hadn’t experienced winning the State Championship of what it was like and how much they should want it,” Katopodis said.

Unlike previous seasons, the 2013 regular season featured three losses by the Red Knights, but the team rebounded and was able to receive the number-one seed in sections and advanced to the State Tournament by outscoring their opponents 23-1 in section play. “I think losing all three of those games by one goal helped us grow as a team and showed us how important it is to be focused every game and how it takes a team to win and a team to lose,” Pannek said.

Winning State once was a dream come true, winning State twice, I don’t even have words to describe.

— Megan Katopotis

After wins over Duluth Denfeld and Mankato West, the Red Knights advanced to their third consecutive State Championship game and defeated the Blake Bears 1-0 on a 70th minute goal by sophomore Aleksa Tataryn to become back-to-back State Champions.

In their four years on the varsity team, the captains collected an amazing record of 75 wins, 6 ties, and only 5 losses. They also made state every year and participated in the State Championship three times; coming away victorious twice. “Winning State once was a dream come true, winning State twice, I don’t even have words to describe,” Katopodis said.

Over her BSM career, Pannek showed the whole state why she was deserving of the 2013 Class A Ms. Soccer Award as she tallied 45 points this season, giving her 122 points on her career, which is the second most in school history. Her 77 career goals are also the second most in school history. “Winning Ms. Soccer is bigger than just me, it is about our team, coaches and BSM soccer community,” Pannek said.

Next year, the Red Knights will, once again, be defending State Champions, and even without their three senior captains, the returning players are ready to take charge and continue the Red Knights’ astonishing run of success.

“They’re shoes will be difficult to fill, but our soccer program always is very successful, and I think we will continue to have success in the years coming,” All-State sophomore Aleksa Tararyn said.