Halloween was a jolly holiday for four Minnesota schools as they clinched state soccer championships Thursday at the Metrodome in Minneapolis. On the girls side, the Class A title went to Benilde-St. Margarets and the AA title was won by Minnetonka. The boys Class A championship trophy was awarded to St. Paul Como Park and in a shootout, North St. Paul took home the Class AA title.
It is also the end of an era.
After 32 years of state soccer tournament semifinal and championship games under the white Metrodome roof, the 2014 and 15 games will be headed up I-94 to Husky Stadium on the St. Cloud State University campus due to the facility being torn down to make room for the new Vikings stadium. Quarterfinal games will still be played at various sites throughout Minnesota.
Going back to 1982, when the Dome first opened, boys and girls high school soccer tournaments were one class affairs. Who were the first champions to win a state soccer tournament in the Dome? The boys state champion was Burnsville, their second state title in three years and third straight for the Lake South Conference. Bloomington Kennedy took home the 1981 championship trophy. Kennedy's city rival Jefferson was the first girls Dome soccer champion. Under the leadership of head coach Charles Coffee, the Jaguars defeated the defending champion Minneapolis Washburn Millers.
There have been some great teams that brought excitement during the Dome era. On the girls side, there was the Mahtomedi Zephyrs, the only school to win three consecutive state championship and the Woodbury Royals, with four state titles in a span from 2003 to 2008.
Looking back at some of the top boys teams, there was the St. Paul Academy Spartans. From 1986 to 1994, the Buzz Lagos led team won four state titles. The Benilde St. Margaret's were also a dominant dome team, winning five state championships. The tournament went to two classes in 1997 and one outstate that benefited from the expanded field was the Rochester Lourdes Eagles. Head coach Tom Kane led the school to three state titles.
Besides Benilde St-Margaret's, the St. Louis Park Orioles boys team made a couple of trips downtown became the only school to play in a Class A and AA championship game. In 2005, they lost to the Breck Mustangs on a penalty kick by Miles Marmo and in 2008 they were defeated by the Osseo Orioles. The girls made only one trip to the Dome. It was back when the Class A tournament was a four team event in 1998 and the Orioles lost to the Minnehaha Academy Redhawks in the finals.
As Paul Anka sang in a popular mid 70s song "Gather moments while you may. Collect the dreams you dream today." There were plenty of moments to gather over the 32 Metrodome years and dreams that came true for many athletes to play in the facility. There will be many moments to gather over the next two years in St. cloud and even more when the soccer tournament returns to the new stadium in 2016.