MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — The state tournament wrapped up this weekend in adapted soccer — and we saw a first-round upset Friday night.
The Rochester Raiders beat top-seeded Robbinsdale-Hopkins-Mound Westonka Robins to advance to the semifinals.
“It’s a good feeling, and they’re a great team. We’re a great team, it’s just they’re undefeated, they deserve the undefeated, the one seed, but the state championship is a whole different animal,” said Rochester junior Blake Hillman.
But any tournament competitor will tell you that’s not even the best part of the experience.
“Comradery, as always, and the fun. Coming from Rochester, we stay overnight at a hotel and have a whole pep fest and everything back home. So it’s a big experience for us,” Hillman said.
And once you get into the sport, it never leaves you.
“I started playing the sport 40 years ago. I continue watching these kids grow, you get to know them as they’re growing, and it’s just a great experience being with them,” said Minnesota State High School League official Charlie Brose. “The most rewarding is watching these kids come out and have a ball and be the best they can be.”
But hey, getting a win makes it that much sweeter.
“They come out and be an undefeated team, even in normal soccer would be a great thing. But to just add it on to this, and a state tournament to come and be an undefeated team just means the world to every kid. And we’ll just give them that boost of confidence they need for the rest of the tournament,” said Maddie Hardtke, Rochester’s head coach. “We came in as underdogs and we knew it was going to be a pretty competitive game.”
The Raiders were defeated by the St. Paul Humboldt Hawks and won third place.
The PI division champion this year is Dakota United, who beat the Hawks 5-2.
In the CI division, South Washington County defeated the consolidated team of Chanhassen-Chaska-Prior Lake-Shakopee 3-1 to win the championship.
Minnesota is the only state where the high school athletic governing body provides sports for kids with physical and cognitive impairments.