Soccer: Elk girls face Minnetonka and Ms. Soccer pick, Ende, at state

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

The Minnetonka Skippers, a formidable defensive squad led by this year’s Ms. Soccer, awaits the Elk River girls soccer team in the state tournament.

The Elks (10-6-3) and No. 3 seeded Skippers (14-2-2) will duel Wednesday at St. Cloud State, starting 5:30 p.m.

The Minnetonka defensive corps, led by Elizabeh Endy, who got the Ms. Soccer and Star-Tribune Metro Player of the Year awards, has allowed only seven goals, an average of 0.4 per game. Goalkeeper Allison Haworth has 51 saves, so they’re allowing less than three shots per game.

“Minnetonka is a well-organized team defensively,” said Elk coach Brian Steuter. “They are very good at limiting opportunities to their opponents.  Ende is a solid centerback (defender) who has made more of a commitment this year of getting into the attack.”

The Skippers were 3-1 against other state qualifiers. The Skippers and Elks have two common opponents. Minnetonka beat Andover 8-0 while the Elks beat the Huskies 3-0. Minnetonka had a 2-1 win and 2-2 tie against Wayzata, while the Elks lost 3-0 to the Trojans.

The Skippers average 2.2 goals. Scoring leaders are Ellen Mau with eight goals and six assists, Gabby Pitera with nine goals and two assists, and Endy with three goals and 11 assists.

“We will need to make sure that we don’t allow Ende to carry the ball with pace through the middle of the field,” said Steuter, “and then also make sure we have pressure on Maggie Christi from distance. Defensively we will need to be well-organized so we do not give them space in the middle, and then make sure to have ball possession and give ourselves multiple options to pass the ball to. To get goals we are going to need to do it as a collective group and not leave our forwards alone up top.”

The Elks (10-6-3) were 3-4-1 at one point,  but went 7-2-2 in their last 11 games, with seven shutouts in that span, including two 0-0 ties, and beat two teams in playoffs  who had beaten them earlier.

The Elks average 1.42 goals and 1.1 goals-against. The bulk of their scoring comes from senior Logan Daulton with 13 goals. Madyson St. Germain is next with three goals. Goalkeeper Megan Marsh averages 6.3 saves per match.

Both teams are making their fifth state  appearance. Minnetonka had one state title, in 2001.

The winner advances to semifinals against Eden Prairie or Mounds View at the Metrodome on Tuesday, Oct. 29, at 2 p.m.

Quarterfinals Wednesday, Oct. 23
At Park-Cottage Grove
Andover (10-8-1) vs. No. 1 Burnsville (16-0-3), 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 Lakeville North (13-2-3) vs. No. 5 Mahtomedi (17-1-1), 7:30 p.m.

At St. Cloud State
Elk River (10-6-3) vs. No. 3 Minnetonka (14-2-2), 5:30 p.m.
Eden Prairie (11-5-2) vs. No. 2 Mounds View (18-0), 7:30 p.m.

Semifinals at Metrodome, Tuesday, Oct. 29
Upper bracket winners, noon
Lower bracket winners, 2 p.m.

State finals at Metrodome, Friday, Oct. 31
Third-place game, 8 a.m.
Championship game, 3 p.m.