Soccer: Elks boys need defense, speed to upset Edina at state

by Bruce Strand, Sports editor

The Elk River-Zimmerman boys soccer team faces a methodical, efficient Edina Hornets squad in the state Class AA boys soccer tournament.

The Elks (13-3-3) and No. 2 seeded Hornets (14-2-3) will duel Thursday at 7:30 p.m. at Park High School in Cottage Grove.

Elk coach Aaron Lindquist assesses Edina as a “very balanced team in their attack,” and very technical with the ball, meaning good dribbling and  passing skills.

“To beat Edina we have to keep the game low-scoring,” he said. “We would like to utilize our speed to run at their defense, especially in wide areas. We also need to make sure we take care of set plays (corner kicks and free kicks) both on the defensive and attacking ends of the field. They play the same formation as we do which means it will be a battle to see who steps up.”

Edina  averages 2.1 goals while giving up 0.8 per game. The Hornets’ scoring is spread out, with Trip Adams and Armeen Shahriar leading with five goals each. Their primary goalkeeper is junior Tanner Morrison. Their best player is defender Nick Stastny, an All-Metro and All-State pick.

Edina is making its eight state trip overall, first since 2002. The Elks are making their seventh, and first since 2010.

The Elks are not a big scoring team, averaging 1.57 goals per game. Most of the offense comes from  Storm Heyer with 13 goals and six assists, Jordan Griffin with six goals, and Joey Benz with four goals and six assists.

Defense has been a strong point as the Elks have yielded just 0.68 goals per game, anchored by goalkeeper Cody Christ.

The Elks’ and Hornets only common opponent is Eden Prairie. Edina beat the Eagles 3-1 and tied them 0-0. The Elks lost to them 2-0.

Edina has not lost to any Class AA teams. Both losses came against Class A teams that did not reach state: Benilde-St. Margaret’s 2-0 and Breck 3-0, both late in the season.

The Elks-Edina winner advances to semifinals at the Metrodome against Owatonna or Eastview on Monday, Oct. 28, at 6 p.m.

Lindquist is confident that his team won’t be nervous.

“We have preached the same points as a coaching staff all year, and we aren’t changing any of that, which helps with their mindset,” said the coach.

He added that his team has played a high level of summer soccer and this fall went 2-2-1 against four teams ranked in the top seven in the state: Blaine, Andover, Anoka and Maple Grove.

Quarterfinals Thursday, Oct. 24
At Chisago Lakes
Andover (14-4-1) vs. No. 1 Minneapolis Southwest (16-1-1), 5:30 p.m.
No. 4 North St. Paul (17-11) vs. No. 5 Prairie Seeds Academy (14-0), 7:30 p.m.

At Park-Cottage Grove
Owatonna (15-1-2) vs. No. 3 Eastview (13-3-1), 5:30 p.m.
Elk River-Zimmerman (13-3-3) vs. No. 2 Edina (14-2-3), 7:30 p.m.

Semifinals at Metrodome, Monday, Oct. 28
Upper bracket winners, 4 p.m.
Lower bracket winners, 6 p.m.

State finals at Metrodome, Thursday, Oct.30
Third-place game, 4 p.m.
Championship game, 6 p.m.