'Hounds headed indoors: Duluth East reaches state semifinals
LINDSTROM, Minn. -- Duluth East boys soccer players Seth Hoffman and Matthew Campbell have never visited U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis. Their coach, Nick Bremer, says he plunked down $400 for the Minnesota Vikings' debut at the $1.1 billion st...
LINDSTROM, Minn. - Duluth East boys soccer players Seth Hoffman and Matthew Campbell have never visited U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.
Their coach, Nick Bremer, says he plunked down $400 for the Minnesota Vikings' debut at the $1.1 billion stadium for a 2016 game against the Green Bay Packers.
A 1-0 victory over Lakeville North on Wednesday night at Chisago Lakes Area High School ensured none of the Greyhounds will have to pay their way into the stadium Monday when they play in a Class AA state tournament semifinal.
Seth Hoffman scored his team-leading 15th goal of the season 29 seconds into the second half and senior goalkeeper Matthew Campbell made eight saves as the Greyhounds won their first Class AA state tournament game (East twice played in the Class A tournament).
Third-ranked East (19-1) meets Stillwater Area (17-1-2), a 2-0 winner over Apple Valley, at 10 a.m. Monday.
"That was the goal coming into the state tournament, to be playing at U.S. Bank," Hoffman said.
The junior midfielder is a big reason that goal is now reality, getting his right foot on a cross from senior forward Jackson Manthey seconds after the second-half restart.
"Jackson made a great play on the end line and sent a great ball in, and I was able to get a foot on it," Hoffman said.
The Greyhounds weren't surprised by their quick start in the second 40 minutes. Perhaps that's because it's becoming routine.
"We've come out hard in the second half in a lot of games ... so we've broken games open at the beginning of the second half," Bremer said. "Making adjustments at halftime and coming out with a lot of energy are things we've done a good job of this year."
Hoffman agreed with his coach.
"We've been a second-half team all year and we knew we had to come out hard," he said. "We came out hard and 30 seconds in, we put one away and locked it down on the 'D'."
That defense is backstopped by Campbell, a burly, physical goalie unafraid to leave the sanctity of his penalty box and challenge shooters.
He made a couple tough saves to earn his 10th shutout of the season.
"Getting a shutout in the state quarterfinals is unbelieveable for self-confidence," Campbell said. "I'm very pleased with that, obviously, especially getting it the way I did with a few saves and a breakaway save."
Bremer was impressed, but unsurprised, by his netminder's performance.
"Campbell was huge, the energy he plays with and the way he commands the field is big for us," the coach said. "His leg is a weapon for us attacking-wise and he makes big saves. Those are the saves you need to make when you are in these kinds of playoff games."
Both teams started fast and created several scoring chances in a scoreless first half.
Panthers goalkeeper Alex Tobias tipped one shot off the underside of the crossbar in the opening minutes and later stopped a Hoffman shot at the near post, while Campbell dove to his right to stop Max Kent's hard shot.
The Greyhounds knew going in that the Panthers (12-4-4) were riding a tide of emotion all season after losing an assistant coach to cancer and their goalkeeper in his sleep before the season started.
"Of the three teams that we could have got in the draw, this is the team that we didn't want," Bremer said. "They are a strong, physical team playing with emotion after losing (a player and a coach) in the offseason.
"We knew they were going to come out firing and give it all they had tonight. We were just looking to counter that and slow them down."
Mission accomplished, and now it's on to indoor soccer.
Lakeville North 0-0-0
Duluth East 0-1-1
First half - No scoring.
Second half - 1. Seth Hoffman (Jackson Manthey), 41st.
Saves - Alex Tobias, LN, 6; Matt Campbell, DE, 8.