By John Papendick, firstname.lastname@example.org
1:26 AM EDT, October 10, 2013
Groton Area girls’ soccer coach Duane Kavanaugh said it is normal to have players tired, nicked up and bruised at this time of year.
However, Groton not only has been fighting the effects of a long, physical season and talented opponents, but a round of flu as well. “Hopefully by (today), everyone will be back at 100 percent,” Kavanaugh said after his team won its state tourney play-in game on Monday.
The third-seeded Tigers (7-4-1) will face second-seeded Sioux Falls O’Gorman (7-1-4) in the state semifinals at 7 tonight at Swisher Field in Aberdeen.
Groton is hoping to use its seven seniors surrounded by a group of talented underclassmen to make a statement in the 2013 tourney — the second state soccer tourney sanctioned by the South Dakota High School Activities Association and sponsored by the member schools. Before that, South Dakota just had club soccer for its high school teams.
“Last year, we were just thrilled to have qualified for the state tourney, playing against the big schools like Aberdeen and O’Gorman,” Kavanaugh said. “This year, we want to compete better. It should be a great tourney with four really great teams. Everyone knows everyone really well, and it should be a battle.”
O’Gorman defeated Groton 3-0 on Sept. 7 in Sioux Falls, but it was a closer game than the score would indicate. “O’Gorman is a good team that is solid throughout their lineup. We are going to have to mark up hard.”
Groton has a unique senior class. A couple of them rejoined the soccer team after a couple of years of not going out for the sport. Then they have some seniors who have been staples in the Tigers’ lineup since they were in middle school. Seniors such as Madison Profeta, Cheyenne Schaller and goalie Darac Harry.
“Those three have been playing for a long time,” Kavanaugh said. “But all our seniors are solid athletes. The ones who haven’t played in a couple of years have really come along. It is a good group and we will count on their experience to help us at the state tourney.”
Kavanaugh said his troops will need to focus on themselves, and not who they are marching against. “We can’t worry about who we are playing. We have to focus on doing our job. When we do that, we can step up and compete against anyone. All the teams in the tourney possess the ball well, and they all are physical teams. We have to come ready to play our best soccer because we are going up against the best teams in the state.”
Kavanaugh said one of his team’s greatest assets is its unity. “This group has great teamwork and team spirit. When someone gets down, other players pick them up. Our motto all year has been, ‘One team, one goal.’ They say it five times a day in practice and they really have lived up to that.
“Win or lose, as a coach, that is what you want, for them to learn how to play as a team. I am really proud of them for that.”
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