Redmen finish fourth in state
The local U18 boys soccer team, who nicknamed themselves the Redmen, was expected to take fourth. Just not fourth in state.
The Redmen, who play at the C-II level, were seeded fourth for their league playoffs, which would determine who got to go to the state tournament this past weekend.
The boys were able to work their way to the championship game of the six-team field, but it seemed like their run (and season) would end there. They found themselves matched up with the top-seed Chanhassen, a group that had hammered Monticello 6-0 during the regular season.
“We weren’t expecting much,” said Cody Lang, the 20-year old coach of the U18 team. “But, the guys came ready to play.”
Indeed they did. The boys turned in perhaps their finest performance of the year, as they used an attacking style to jump out to a lead and cruise to a 5-1 victory over the top seed.
“We switched up our formation and played a more attacking style,” said Lang. “We tried to put a little more pressure on them, which ended up working.”
Offensively, the Redmen were powered by a very balanced attack. Nick Simondet, David Anderson, Jason Lang, Geraldo Ortiz and Traton Diekman all scored goals for Monticello.
The successful attack strategy gave the Monticello summer program its first U18 state tournament berth in three years.
Unfortunately when they got into state, they ran into a problem they had been encountering all year, conflicting schedules.
A handful of Monticello’s top players, including Noah Biasco, Ryan Frucci and Kenny Kalk were forced to miss the state tournament due to work schedule and a mission trip. In the third place game, the Redmen were also missing their starting goaltender, Drew Kramer from St. Michael.
“That doesn’t help at all,” said Lang about trying to play shorthanded.
Still, the Redmen didn’t cave. They turned in two solid efforts, falling just short in both state tournament games.
The semifinal match pitted them against New Brighton. At halftime, the score was 2-2, and Lang felt like the Redmen had clearly been the better team. But, as the second half started, Monticello – playing with just one sub – couldn’t generate any offense, while New Brighton picked up one goal; good enough for a 3-2 win.
“We just wore down,” said Lang.
Sunday, in the finals, the Redmen fell 3-1 to Sibley. Playing with a new goalie, Lang credited defenseman Diekman, Bryan Haider and Austin LeBrun for helping keep Monticello in the game.
Offensively, Monticello got two state tournament goals from Simondet, and one from Anderson.
The fourth-place finish capped an 8-5 season for the Redmen.