Can the Shakopee boys soccer team continue its upward trend?
The Sabers won a share of the South Suburban Conference title last fall with a 7-0-2 mark, finishing the season with an 8-2-3 record.
Going into this season, Shakopee has won 22 games combined in the previous two years (22-5-1 overall).
So what can the Sabers accomplish this fall? Can they contend for another SSC crown, as well as a Section 2AAA title?
The team will first need to replace Zachary Susse, who was the state’s Mr. Soccer Award winner last year, as well as all-state midfielder Broc Dollerschell. Susee scored 23 goals and tallied 11 assists for the Sabers last season.
It was also the first conference title for Shakopee since winning the now-defunct Missota Conference title back in 2010. Last year’s 12 seniors set a high bar for the program.
Shakopee joined the SSC at the start of the 2014-15 school year. The program had a combined record of 8-33-4 in its first five seasons in the league. The last two years, the Sabers have been 14-1-3 in league play.
This fall, the Sabers have 15 seniors — Jefferson Hernandez, Gage Torres, Jonathon Pitterle, Alejandro Sanchez, Emad Fatah, Abdiaziz lsmail, Whitaker Root, Nathan Martinez, Michael Torres, Edrei Aceves Morales, Yoskar Deleon, Nathan Dake and Owen Forsythe, along with goalies Nicholas Isensee and Parker Young.
So there’s experience back for Shakopee to not only be a factor again in the SSC, but in the playoffs as well.
The Sabers have opened the season splitting their first four games. All four teams are section foes.
Shakopee earned a 2-1 overtime win at Chanhassen Sept. 7 and a won 4-0 at Chaska Sept. 2. The two losses are 3-1 versus Eden Prairie Aug. 28 and 3-0 against Minnetonka Aug. 26.
The Minnesota State High School League reclassified sections for all sports last April. Soccer went to three classes and the Sabers’ section didn’t change much.
Third-ranked Minnetonka and No. 8 Edina are still in the field, along with Eden Prairie, Chaska, Chanhassen and Prior Lake. The one new team is Waconia, replacing Bloomington Jefferson.
The Sabers lost 1-0 to Eden Prairie in the Section 2AA semifinals last year and fell 2-0 to Minnetonka in the semifinals in 2019.
Last year, the COVID-19 pandemic forced a late start to the year and reduced the amount of games in the regular season. There was also no state tourney.
Shakopee has never made the state field in boys soccer in program history.
Meanwhile, in the win over Chanhassen, Fatah and Sanchez had the Sabers’ goals. Sanchez and Dake each had assists.
Against Chaska, Dake led the team with two goals, while Martinez and Ismail both had one. Torres, Sanchez and junior Dylan Harder each had assists.
Sanchez scored for Shakopee in the loss to Eden Prairie with Harder getting the assist.
Shakopee will end the regular season Oct. 6 in an SSC game at Eagan. Lakeville South was the only SSC team ranked in the preseason Class 3AAA poll at No. 9.
The Sabers tied with Lakeville North for the league crown last year. In 2019, Shakopee’s 7-1-1 mark tied it for second in the SSC with Lakeville North with Eastview winning (8-1) the crown.
The Section 2AAA playoffs start Oct. 12.