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When the 2019 high school Class AA and Class A soccer playoffs kick off today, the Spearfish boys are aiming to return to the top after a highly successful regular season.

The Spartans, who won the Class A 2016 state title, have 11 wins and will open postseason play against a Yankton team that only won six matches, but closed out the season winning three of four.

Despite the difference in overall wins between the two teams, Spearfish coach Jim Hill knows it is never a walk in the park. But, he also believes his team can beat anyone if they put their best foot forward and play their brand of soccer.

Nonetheless, losing in the first round means you’re out, and Hill is well aware of that as well.

“We know we can play with anybody if we play our best soccer,” he said. “The way the season has gone for a lot of teams, anybody in the top 10 could beat anybody on any given night. That first round is scary, you come in and lose and you’re out.”

The Spartans had a pretty consistent season, opening with a pair of wins before drawing with Pierre.

After suffering its first loss of the season to Sioux Falls O’Gorman, Spearfish won six straight, including victories over St. Thomas More, Belle Fourche, and a pair of wins over Sturgis.

The only other loss the Spartans picked up along the way came against Rapid City Central (1-0) last Tuesday, before bouncing back to win the last two games of the season.

Hill added that his team has matured on the field throughout the season.

“It is really important that we come in and focus and play well in that first game,” he said. “They grew a lot this year and that’s probably the biggest thing for us going in.”

Spearfish and Yankton will play at the Black Hills Power Sports Complex in Spearfish today at 5 p.m.

Rapid City Stevens vs. Sturgis 

Rapid City Stevens will open the playoffs against a Sturgis team which has a had a quiet, but productive year.

The Raiders head into tonight’s matchup with a 6-2-3 record, with four of those wins coming toward the end of the season.

Meanwhile, the Scoopers had 10 wins and four losses, with a five-game winning streak to close out the regular season.

When the two teams faced off Sept. 13 in Rapid City, the Raiders came out on top with a 3-0 victory.

Sturgis would lose its next game against Spearfish, before rallying to win its next five to gain some momentum heading into the playoffs.

 Stevens coach Jeff Fierro is looking forward to today's first round.

“I think we are feeling optimistic about the playoffs,” he said. “We put a lot of time and energy into our system, into our plan and into our fitness. We are feeling really good about it. We are prepared.”  

While Fierro knows his offense can put the ball in the net, he also relies on the defensive side to help them win games.

That being said, he knows the best teams are well balanced.

“As the season played out, we felt really good about our defense and our goalie Carter Wagner has really improved in the net and helped the defensive side as a whole,” he said.

“We started with kind of a new system this year and made some changes and we know what we are supposed to do. Every practice and every game we feel better. Our first four years we always made it to the semis or to the state title game, so it always feels good to get to those games. We feel like we have a chance to do that this year as well.”

The Raiders and Scoopers will play at Sioux Park Stadium today at 3 p.m.

Rapid City Central vs. Watertown

For Rapid City Central, the playoffs will be centered around teamwork and playing the game as a cohesive unit.

“We just need to continue to work together,” Cobbler coach Joe Sabrowski said. “We just need to stay focused and everyone needs to be committed to the team, and to the game. We just need to work; work on our touches, work on seeing the field and not being one dimensional.”  

That teamwork has led Central to a successful season, but an up-and-down one at that.

Central opened the regular season with a 2-2-1 record, but righted the ship by going 5-1-1 over the next seven games.  

When the quadruple header at Sioux Park Stadium starts today, the Cobblers will be the first team to take the field as they host Watertown at 1 p.m.

The Arrows, who went 7-6 in the regular season, suffered a pair of losses before winning their last two games to end the season with some momentum of their own.

Sabrowski said his team has to be focused as things crank up in the playoffs.

“The playoffs are like a whole new season and it is anybody’s ball game,” he said. “We really have to take every opponent serious. There are teams we haven’t seen in a couple of years and we have to be prepared, if we aren’t prepared, it could be a disaster.”

St Thomas More vs. James Valley Christian

On the Class A side of things, St. Thomas More will be looking to bounce back in the first round after closing the regular season with some tough losses.

On top of that, it will be looking to get back to the state title game again after making it the year before last. 

The Cavaliers (5-7-2) had a good start to the year as they went 4-2 in their first six games.

From there, though, STM struggled as its next win wouldn’t come until the last week of the season, when it cruised to an 8-0 win over Douglas/Rapid City Christian.

Despite the tough losses to Central, Sturgis and Stevens to close out the season, the Cavs have proven they can put the ball in the net.

When More takes the field today, it will face off against James Valley Christian, a team that has struggled to pick up wins for most of the season.

The Vikings closed out the year at 2-5-5, but finished the season on the winning end as it defeated Freeman Academy Sept. 28.

The two teams will square off today at the Dakota Fields Complex at 4 p.m.

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