Lakeville North girls’ soccer improves to No. 1 in latest rankings

Lakeville North has a recent to celebrate with a South Suburban Conference title within its reach. Photo by Jim Lindquist
Lakeville North has a recent to celebrate with a South Suburban Conference title within its reach. Photo by Jim Lindquist

Throughout the 2015 regular season, Lakeville North has been considered one of the top girls’ soccer teams in the state. But now, the Panthers are considered the best.

In the latest Class 2A coaches association poll, Lakeville North moved up to No. 1 after sitting at No. 2 for two weeks. The Panthers had held the No. 3 spot since the preseason poll came out.

The complete Class 2A rankings:

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The move in the rankings came with the fall of Eagan, which held the top spot for all of this season and most of last season. The Wildcats fell to No. 4 after losing to Eastview last Tuesday, which was their first loss in 30 consecutive games.

The Panthers faced the Lightning on Thursday, and defeated them 1-0, propelling Lakeville North to first in the poll.

Lakeville North is also first place in the South Suburban Conference with two games remaining with a record of 11-1. The two remaining opponents, Shakopee and Farmington, have a combined record of 5-15-7, which is far from daunting.

Goalkeeper Taylor Lock and the Lakeville North defense have shut out 10 of their 12 opponents, so both the Sabers and Tigers will likely struggle to score against the Panthers on Tuesday and Thursday.

Although it isn’t a guarantee, Lakeville North should finish the regular season 13-1, which will give it the conference title in one of the top girls’ soccer conferences in the state.

Four of the top 10 teams in the most recent rankings–Lakeville North, Eagan, Eastview and Burnsville–play in the SSC.

“It is a really hard conference,” said Jeremiah Johnson, the Panthers’ coach. “It could be more difficult than winning a state championship.” 

Johnson said that winning nine games against SSC opponents is more difficult than six consecutive postseason games, which is what it takes to win a state championship. With “lesser opponents” in the first few games of the postseason, teams typically face four difficult opponents later in the postseason, compared to nine in the regular season for SSC teams.

In Johnson’s first year as head coach last season, Lakeville North finished fourth at state–something it has a decent chance on improving on this season with a strong senior class including Iowa State commit Hannah Cade.

Section play begins next week.

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