It should come as no surprise that this year’s River Eagles U18 soccer team is off to a dominating start.
If you combine last year’s second place finish in state at the C-2 level (third highest level of competition behind C-1 and premiere), with the return of most of their key players, plus the decision to stay at the C-2 level, the team was clearly bound for success.
And they’ve found it.
A 4-4 tie on Tuesday night kept the River Eagles undefeated in league play as they moved to 6-0-2. Before the tie against Hastings, the lone other blemsh had came in a tie against South St. Paul, who they beat twice earlier this season on their way to winning a C-2 tournament in Woodbury.
After losing in the state championship last year, the Eagles had a chance to opt up to C-1. Coach Arnold Changamire said it was considered, but when they had a few girls not return, the girls opted against that decision.
However, with a strong core of Monticello girls such as Hillary Arechigo, Kallie and Danielle Gau and Cody Romer, plus some solid players joining from Becker and a girl from Big Lake, the team did decide to challenge itself a bit more this season.
They signed up for two C-1 tournaments, the first of which was held the weekend of June 16.
It certainly wasn’t what the River Eagles – who have gotten used to winning – were accustomed to. They dropped three straight games, falling to Plymouth by one, a South Dakota team by two and then Moorhead by two.
But despite the 0-3 record, Changamire was very happy with what he saw.
“It was good,” he said of the experience. “I’m always trying to tell the girls they belong at C-1, and it was good for them to play at that level.”
The experience seemed to be a positive for the River Eagles, who have bounced back to remain undefeated in league play, aided Tuesday night against Hastings by first half goals from Kallie Gau, Hillary Arechigo and Sarah Traczyk.
The spread-out scoring continued a trend that Changamire said has really made this team fun to coach – and watch – the last four seasons.
“They all play so well and understand their roles,” he said. “It helps to be winning … but we’re having a ball doing it.”
The Eagles will begin playoffs in July, and will be looking to recapture some of the magic that got them to the championship game last year. If they make it there, they will look to lean on their experience against tougher competition, and show that they deserve to be among the best teams in the state.
Don’t be surprised if they do just that.