Thunderbolts soccer: ’Bolts end regular season 4-4-1After a strong start to the year, the South Washington Thunderbolts adapted soccer team hit a snag at the end of the regular season.
By: Patrick Johnson, Sports Editor, South Washington County Bulletin
After a strong start to the year, the South Washington Thunderbolts adapted soccer team hit a snag at the end of the regular season.
Last week, the ‘Bolts fell 15-1 to Chanhassen/Chaska/Prior Lake/Shakopee and 5-1 to Minneapolis to enter playoffs on a two-game losing streak. South Washington County — a mix of student-athletes from East Ridge, Park and Woodbury — finished the regular season 4-4-1.
In the 5-1 regular-season finale loss in Minneapolis, on Wednesday, Nov. 2, South Washington County head coach Denny Larson said the Thunderbolts were outmuscled by the big, physical Minneapolis team, which was 3-5 on the year.
Sophomore Sam Baumann scored the ‘Bolts’ lone goal in the game, with an assist coming from freshman defender Lucas Fiedler.
“They were just huge,” Larson said. “Very big kids and very physical and they could really kick the ball. Our kids couldn’t really do too much against them.”
In the 15-1 loss to the cooperative from Chanhassen/Chaska/Prior-Lake/Shakopee , on Halloween – Monday, Oct. 31 – the Thunderbolts played without its leading scorer, freshman Tristan Rankin, who had an illness, and was overpowered by the southern Minnesota co-op, which is in first place in the CI South Division with a 9-0 overall record.
Larson said CCPS was the best team the ‘Bolts faced this year.
“We couldn’t get much offense going at all,” Larson said. “The difference in skill level was pretty obvious. They were very big kids too.”
Fiedler had South Washington County’s lone goal in the game.
Additionally, the Thunderbolts’ JV team put up a fight, but fell to CCPS 8-6. In the JV game, Melanie Nichols scored three goals and Austin Sager, Melanie Nichols and Josh Gudmunson each had one goal.
Prior to the last two games, the ‘Bolts went 2-1-1 in its previous four games, after beginning the year 2-1.
The Thunderbolts achieved what Larson called its “best win” of the year, with a 9-1 defeat of North St. Paul/Tartan (1-7) on Wednesday, Oct. 26, at ‘The Perch’ gym at East Ridge High School.
“It was a great game for the Thunderbolts and one of the highlights of the year,” Larson said. “The parents were there cheering us on and it was a very, very positive experience for the kids.”
In the victory, South Washington County took a 5-0 lead in the first half on the way to the win.
Rankin led the way for the ‘Bolts in the game with five goals and an assist and sophomore Amanda Henderson netted four goals. Also, Fiedler had four assists, senior Caleb Gotz had two assists and sophomore defender John Stutleberg, Baumann and goalie Thomas “TJ” Jarosiewicz each had one assist. Jarosiewicz also made 22 saves in the game.
Larson said Jarosiewicz has been a “life-saver” this year.
“TJ is an amazing player,” Larson said. “The best thing is that he’s smiling all the time. He’s one of the biggest reasons were in these games. He’s all over the place.”
Prior to beating North/Tartan, the Thunderbolts earned a forfeit victory over Minneapolis Edison (1-3), tied South Suburban 2-2 and fell 9-3 to Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville.
In the loss to Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville (6-3), Rankin had two goals and an assist and Gotz had one goal. BFL is in third place in the division with a 6-3 record.
“They’re very good,” Larson said. “Poor TJ just got pummeled with shots.”
In the 2-2 tie with South Suburban (5-3-1), Rankin had each of the ‘Bolts’ goals. Also, the JV team won 10-3 in its game that night. In the win, Megan Nichols had three goals and an assist, Taylor Clark and Danielle Retica each scored two goals, and Gudmunson and Kira Oden each had a goal and an assist.
“It was a hard-fought battle,” Larson said. “They put their best player back in the goal and he was tough. Plus, we had more shots over the goal than on the goal. But, it was a good night.”
Next, South Washington County’s playoff opener takes place Wednesday, Nov. 9, at Mounds View (5-3). A win would give the Thunderbolts a state tournament berth, but a loss ends the team’s season.