With the high school soccer playoffs starting today, the Rapid City Stevens girls’ team is looking to get back to where last season ended.
With a shot at the Class AA state title.
But this time, the Raiders are looking for a different outcome as they dropped a 2-0 decision to Pierre in a matchup that was overtaken by blizzard conditions.
This year, Stevens is back on track for a state title return as it boasts an 8-1-2 record, with its only loss of the season coming in the first week against Sioux Falls Lincoln.
The Raiders rattled off a couple of wins before playing Pierre to a 1-1 tie in a title game rematch early in the season.
Over the next seven contests, Stevens went 6-0-1, including five wins in a row to close out the regular season.
Raider head coach Luis Usera feels as though his team is right on track and is ready to reach that next level.
“Going into the playoffs, I think we are heading in the right direction with our chemistry, and the girls haven’t quite peaked yet, but they are getting close,” he said. “It is important going into the game that we get to that point.”
Stevens, which heads into the playoffs as the number four seed, will open with a match against Sturgis tonight at 7 p.m. at Sioux park Stadium.
In the only head-to-head matchup between the two teams this season, the Raiders earned a narrow 1-0 victory over the Scoopers.
Despite having a win over the team’s first-round opponent, Usera knows his team has to stay focused and not let the moment get to them.
“We are really just taking it one game at a time now and really just trying to build off what we learned about ourselves this season. Our biggest thing is not letting the game to get to them early, letting the game play out and playing with their hearts.”
Rapid City Central vs. Spearfish
For Rapid City Central, this season is all about trying to get back to winning a state championship, a goal the Cobblers achieved just a few years ago.
The Cobblers started the season on the right track with five wins in a row, before going 2-2-2 over the last six games.
In its first matchup of the playoffs, Central will take on a familiar foe in Spearfish.
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“Looking at our options, I feel pretty good about the first round, but of course, we won’t be taking anybody for granted,” Central coach Mark Morgan said. “We think we are playing our best soccer right now."
The two teams played at the end of the season with the Cobblers picking up a 3-0 shutout over the Spartans in Spearfish last Thursday.
Spearfish had a rather up-and-down season, as it opened with a win over Huron, before losing its next four matches. From there, though, the Spartans rallied and won five of its next six, including victories over Belle Fourche and St. Thomas More.
After suffering a pair of losses to Stevens and Central and finishing to a draw with the Cavaliers, Spearfish finished the season with a record of 6-7-1.
The Cobblers will go into Tuesday’s matchup having made a few personnel changes Morgan believes will ultimately have a positive affect.
“We have made some changes that seem to be effective,” he said. “We have to get through the first round and see if we have everything dialed in. We are taking it one game at a time, but the girls are pretty focused.”
Central and Spearfish will play today at 5 p.m. at Sioux Park Stadium.
St. Thomas More
Despite some bad luck throughout the regular season, the St. Thomas More girls head into the Class A playoffs intending to make some noise.
To say the Cavaliers have had some bad luck is an understatement, though, as they have not lost a match by more than a pair of goals this season.
The worst of the bad luck came in the Sept. 10 matchup with Sturgis, a 1-0 loss, in which neither team got an offensive goal. In the 45th second of the opening minute, a cross shot went off the leg of one of the Cavs defenders and into the goal for the eventual game winner.
Despite it all, St. Thomas More coach Doug Noyes believes the team is on the right track at the right time.
“We have kind of gotten a little unlucky throughout this season. Some shots hitting crossbars, 2-0 losses and one-goal losses all year,” he said. “We feel like things are really starting to click, and the last few games the team is really playing with some heart and fire and playing their best soccer.”
The Cavaliers (4-6-3) will open the postseason by hosting Garretson, a team that has gone 1-3-2 in its last six games.
“We are really confident going into Tuesday’s game," said Noyes. "We just feel like everything is clicking. We are setting some obvious and obtainable goals in a short time and the girls have been able to stay focused on that.”
St. Thomas More and Garretson kick off the playoffs today at 4 p.m. at the Dakota Fields Complex.