The Burnsville girls soccer team is under new leadership this fall.
Mohamud Ali has taken over the Blaze program from John Soderholm, who stepped down last season after 12 years as head coach.
Ali is taking over a program in rebuilding mode. The Blaze went 0-10 last fall (0-9 in the South Suburban Conference) in the COVID-19 shortened season, which included a section playoff, but no state tournament.
In 2019, the Blaze struggled to a 6-8-3 campaign (1-6-2 in the SSC).
Soderholm led Burnsville to a 129-71-20 overall record in his 12 seasons leading the program, including a runner-up finish at state in 2011 and a third-place showing in 2013.
Burnsville won SSC titles in 2013 and 2017, and had a 53-46-8 conference mark in the Solderholm era.
Ali played high school soccer at Minneapolis Roosevelt and competed at the Division III level at Hamline University in St. Paul. He’s been a head coach at Roosevelt and Wellstone High School in Minneapolis and an assistant at Minneapolis Southwest.
“I’m very excited to part of this (Burnsville) program and to serve the community that I’m part off,” Ali said. “We are hoping to have a great season. My expectations are to represent the Blaze community very well, to work hard and to compete every game.”
Burnsville is off to a good start under Ali, going 2-1-1 in their first four games. The Blaze opened the season with a scoreless tie at Simley Aug. 26, and followed with a 6-1 loss Aug. 28 at White Bear Lake.
Burnsville’s first win for their new coach came Aug. 30, beating Chisago Lakes 3-0 on the road. The Blaze won their home opener Aug. 31, 4-1 over Minneapolis South.
Junior Madi Barr has led the offense in the first four games with two goals and three assists. Sophomore Noemi Gonzalez has a pair of goals, while senior Katie Katzmarek, junior Ella White and sophomores Emma Boys and Lauren Janisch each have scored once.
Sophomore Alyssa Nachand and White both have an assist. Senior Auggie Whitcomb started the first four games in goal for the Blaze.
Katzmarek and seniors Alexis Suvamphin and Olivia Carlson are Burnsville’s captains.
“I’m blessed to have three great senior leader as captains,” Ali said. “We will also have other players who will have big years with the likes off (senior) Delaney Woog, Boys and White.”
The Minnesota State High School League reclassified sections for all sports last spring. Soccer went to three classes and the Blaze will be in Section 3AAA with seven other teams.
One of those teams is Rosemount, and the Irish were ranked No. 3 in the state in the preseason Class 3A poll. Other teams in the field include Apple Valley, Eastview, Eagan, Bloomington Jefferson, Hastings and Park.
Burnsville will open the SSC season Sept. 9 at Shakopee. The Blaze’s first league home game is Sept. 14 against Farmington.