Stillwater ladies soccer went undefeated final fall, but didn’t win a state title.
East Ridge volleyball didn’t drop a set in 2020, but skilled no postseason.
River Falls soccer practiced all week for a recreation in opposition to rival Menomonie, solely to have the competition canceled on recreation day.
Chisago Lakes performed precisely one soccer recreation all final fall, with each different recreation getting canceled.
There have been cross nation state champions topped, although you received’t discover these within the Minnesota State Excessive Faculty League file books — the “state” meet was not a MSHSL-sponsored occasion.
Little in regards to the 2020 fall highschool sports activities season was conventional. For one, there have been no state tournaments.
Hill-Murray senior receiver and cornerback Rashad McKinley admitted not having that final carrot made the work tougher.
“Practices have been enjoyable and we have been competing,” he stated, “However it was form of like, ‘What are we doing this for if we will’t exit and compete no extra?’ ”
Soccer was halted after sectional competitors, leaving an empty feeling for applications like Stillwater, which made it by means of the common season and part play undefeated. However the street stopped in need of state.
“Often after a bit closing the ladies are completely satisfied,” Ponies coach Mike Huber stated. “Final 12 months, on the finish of the part closing, there have been tears. Often, you don’t get tears after successful a bit closing. However final 12 months there was this finality of, ‘OK, this was the tip.’ And it wasn’t essentially a state championship.”
East Ridge volleyball would’ve appreciated to have at the least had that postseason style. A surge in COVID-19 numbers in November led to a near-immediate shutdown of highschool sports activities, amongst different issues. Soccer rushed in a pair playoff video games the place attainable. Volleyball wasn’t but set to start its part play.
The season was, merely, over.
“Clearly we have been very completely satisfied simply having the ability to play. … We talked day by day about simply being grateful for the chance to play,” Raptors coach Steve Anderson stated. “However yeah, when you will have a season like that going, you need to see how far you possibly can take it, and to have that pulled out from beneath us, it was arduous, however on the similar time, we have been pleased with what we achieved.”
The hope is the 2021 fall season might be higher. Early indicators counsel it will likely be.
Stillwater’s ladies soccer group launched into a four-hour bus experience Friday morning to Moorhead, the place the Ponies would play their first recreation of the season.
It has turn into an annual custom for the Ponies to make an early-season, in a single day journey to both Moorhead or Duluth to play a recreation and get in some added group bonding. Such voyages create recollections that assist outline the highschool sports activities expertise.
“I’m so excited to return again and simply do an in a single day journey with the group,” Ponies senior midfielder CJ Fredkove stated. “It’s a lot enjoyable and we make so many recollections collectively, simply having the ability to do group bonding and simply new gamers to the group which are added, you get to know that so a lot better. It creates a stronger bond between the group.”
That’s a part of what was lacking final fall. Stillwater’s longest journey in 2020 was the 20-minute drive to Forest Lake, as competitors was restricted for many applications to in-conference solely. Actions have been restricted to apply and video games.
They have been all possible vital concessions to finish a season performed within the coronary heart of a pandemic, however these concessions led to an irregular expertise final fall.
This 12 months, there’s a larger sense of normalcy.
East Ridge traveled to Prior Lake on Friday for a nonconference volleyball match, one thing it couldn’t play in 2020. The Raptors have already got held scrimmages and can take part in tournaments, just a few extra no-nos final fall.
Even the bus rides to and from video games are vital. Simply ask Raptors senior defensive specialist Maria Chapman. Chapman moved to Minnesota as a sophomore, and people outside-of-practice actions helped her get to know teammates on the fly.
Not the whole lot is regular. The Raptors have what Chapman known as “COVID attendance.” Anderson famous every college and district East Ridge travels to will possible have completely different protocols and precautions. Whereas East Ridge has group constructing workout routines on the books, Anderson stated this system didn’t maintain its annual pot-luck with dad and mom to open the 12 months. It’s nonetheless a good suggestion to watch out contemplating the present surge with the Delta variant.
“We’re nonetheless form of simply strolling the road,” Anderson stated. “Hopefully we will hold this (virus) at bay, particularly when the children are again in class within the constructing and round one another.”
As a result of the first targets stay to maintain youngsters in class, hold video games on the schedule and hold followers within the stands.
Chapman stated plans for theme nights are already being put in place for sure dwelling video games. Whereas there have been video games final fall, the ambiance wasn’t the identical with restricted attendance numbers. Chapman is already wanting ahead to packed stands when East Ridge performs rival Woodbury.
“These are the video games which are tremendous enjoyable and produce essentially the most recollections,” she stated. “To have the ability to have these once more goes to be actually particular, particularly after final 12 months.”
Huber stated the Ponies nonetheless needed to put on masks on the bus journey, however Friday’s recreation didn’t require a bottle of hand sanitizer on the bench.
“Even issues doubtlessly like having pasta dinners once more and never worrying about group footage the place you must be unfold out by six toes. You possibly can take a group image standing by another person,” Huber stated. “The youngsters can publish photographs with their pals on-line and never have to fret about it.”
They will additionally dream massive about potentialities of advancing to state tournaments and successful state titles. As a result of, this 12 months, these issues are attainable.
“This 12 months, we all know we’re going to play. We all know who we’re going to play, and we’ve got targets for the longer term, like postseason,” River Falls senior lineman Tanner Zepczyk stated. “It’s nonetheless only one week at a time, but it surely’s comforting to know there’s going to be video games, there’s going to be targets to realize.”
Stillwater soccer and East Ridge volleyball head into this season motivated to succeed in the targets that weren’t attainable a 12 months in the past. Ditto for Hill-Murray’s soccer program.
“We felt we had a very good likelihood to win state final 12 months, and I believe we’ve got one other good likelihood to do it this 12 months,” Huber stated. “It offers us an opportunity to make up for misplaced time, so to say.”
These groups, and plenty of others, head into this fall taking solace that their future is, in the intervening time, in their very own arms.
“It does really feel like we’re making an attempt like hell to get again to regular, and that’s what I like about it,” Hill-Murray soccer coach Rob Reeves stated. “We don’t discuss it, we don’t discuss it with the group, we simply go to work day by day, however sure, the texture of even (Wednesday) evening I picked my daughter up, driving dwelling and the nippiness within the air, it’s beginning to really feel like fall, the best season within the 12 months. So we’re excited in regards to the season, enthusiastic about it getting again to regular.”