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Park girls soccer: Wolfpack beats Woodbury, now 9-0

Park senior Jenna Swenson and the Wolfpack improved to 9-0 with wins over North Branch, Forest Lake and Woodbury last week. Park is now eighth in the Class AA state rankings. (Submitted photo by Scott Briggs)

The Park girls soccer team continued its torrid start to the 2013 season, improving to 9-0 with wins over North Branch, Forest Lake and Woodbury.

The Wolfpack has yet to allow a goal this season, outscoring opponents 21-0 in their nine games, and — with its recent wins over respected intra-district and Suburban East Conference rivals East Ridge and Woodbury — Park is starting to gain the rest of the state’s attention, jumping up to eighth in the most recent Class AA poll.

“If we keep getting better and we stay healthy I think we can compete with any team in the state,” Park head coach Greg Juba said. “I think so far things are going very well for us. The girls are working very hard and we’re getting better every game.”

Park (9-0; 3-0 SEC) is currently the top-ranked team in the Suburban East. Fellow undefeated conference club Mounds View (7-0; 3-0 SEC) is ranked ninth. In Park’s Section 3AA, however, Eastview (9-1) is ranked No. 2 and Burnsville (7-0-1) is ranked third. Minnetonka (8-0-1) is ranked No. 1.

“There’s no break in our conference and there’s no break in our section, especially now that they added the Burnsville girls,” Juba said.

Park started last week with a 1-0 win on Tuesday at Woodbury, which entered the game ranked 15th — two spots back of the Wolfpack at the time. Park senior Temi Ogunrinde provided the game-winning goal against the Royals (4-4; 2-1 SEC) off an assist by junior Maddie Castro. Ogunrinde also had the lone goal in the Wolfpack’s 1-0 win over East Ridge and now has a team-high six tallies on the year. In the win over Woodbury, Park junior goalie Emily Lange made seven saves for the shutout.

“Against Woodbury the girls never stopped,” Juba said. “ We thought we played very well and held the advantage for the most part. People are having a hard time covering Temi. She’s very good. Maddie Castro is passing the ball all around and Carlie Williams and Katelyn Floysand have controlled the middle.”

Two days later, Park made quick work of Forest Lake (6-3; 0-3 SEC) on Thursday’s conference matchup at Wolfpack Stadium, winning 3-0. Park got two goals from Ogunrinde and one goal from Alissa Troje in the win, while Castro had two assists and Haley Mead had one assist. Also, Lange made eight saves for the shutout victory.

Most recently, Park completed its 30th annual overnight trip — beating North Branch (3-5) by a 6-0 score on Saturday, Sept. 14, which had as much to do with team bonding as anything else.

“We had a great time,” Juba said. “We have a lot of nice girls, as always, and a lot of skilled players. At Park, sometimes we might not be the best on the scoreboard in all of our sports, but we really have nice kids that really work hard to do their best.”

The Park girls soccer team has always hung its hat on its defense — and this season is no exception. Juba, the only head coach in the team’s history, has run a zone defense since starting the program 32 years ago. In those 32 seasons, Park has finished first or second in its conference 17 times and has reached the state tournament on six occasions. For the most part, it’s been because of its sturdy defense.

Unlike man-to-man defense, where a defender marks an opponent’s offensive player and mainly stays with them at all times, in the zone, defenders rotate on who they cover depending on which attacker has the ball. Juba said most high school and college teams play man-to-man, but there are other teams that play a zone, too.

With six games remaining in the regular season, the Wolfpack is on a historic pace. In 2011, Park allowed a mere five goals in its 16 regular season games — the fewest in all of Class AA during that season and a total thought to be the lowest in Park High School history. Park finished the regular season 12-3-1 overall and ranked 10th in Class AA. When Park won the state championship in 1990, the team allowed a total of seven goals over the course of its 24-game title run — six goals in the regular season and one goal throughout the playoffs. It’s believed the 1990 season was the least amount of goals the team allowed previously.

“We have a lot of players that will be back there helping out, so that when a defender does make a play we can get the ball up the field with a quick counter attack,” Juba said. “We feel the shutouts not only are made by the defenders and goalie, but a lot of the players on the field.”

Though the team’s record is spotless, not all has been perfect for Park this season.

The Wolfpack lost one of its leaders to injury for the year. Park senior defensive stopper and team captain Anna Keys suffered an ACL injury to her knee that will require season-ending surgery.

Keys, also a standout hockey player and golfer for the Wolfpack even before she actually started high school at Park, has a verbal commitment to play hockey at Minnesota State-Mankato, but very likely won’t be able to take the ice for the Wolfpack this winter, Juba said.

“She was playing very good,” Juba said. “It’s too bad her senior year that this had to happen. She worked very hard this offseason like she always does. She’s a great student and a great person.”

With the loss of Keys, senior Katelyn Floysand moved from the midfield to the back to join senior Jenna Swenson, junior Sam Brumm and junior sweeper Annie Williams. Floysand recently committed to play Division 1 soccer for the University of South Dakota Coyotes.

Park took on ninth-ranked Mounds View on Tuesday, after the Bulletin went to print. Park travels to White Bear Lake on Thursday to take on the Bears.

“Our conference is still very tough,” Juba said. “White Bear is always good, Stillwater is always good and Cretin is beating people. We’re happy where we are at, but we want to keep getting better.”

Patrick Johnson
Patrick Johnson has been the South Washington County Bulletin’s sports editor since 2008. He reports on and oversees coverage of high school and amateur sports in south Washington County and Woodbury. Prior to joining the Bulletin, Johnson worked for other Twin Cities suburban newspapers. He is a University of Minnesota graduate.
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