This was a memorable season for Jeff Figlmiller and the South Washington Thunderbolts.
On Saturday, the Thunderbolts earned the second-place trophy at the state tournament for adapted floor hockey CI. The team was built around players that had state playoff experience and they carried the team to a state tournament.
"The coaches knew that we had a lot of state playoff experience," Figlmiller said. "And that began to show more and more at the end of the season as they wanted to get back this point."
The Thunderbolts lost to St. Cloud Area Slapshots 16-5 in the state championship, but the journey to this point is what the players and coaches will remember for a long time.
South Washington lost a handful of experienced players last season, so Figlmiller wasn't sure what to expect from the team. The players continued to learn everyday and work hard at every game and that translated to a nice winning streak heading into the section tournament.
Due to all the snow and weather conditions over the past couple of months, Figlmiller said the Thunderbolts didn't have many practices and had to play four straight games right away. He knew it was going to be tough especially with no strategy or practice before these games.
That didn't matter to the players as they came out with win after win and proved they were the team to beat. After winning the section tournament in early March, Figlmiller said he was excited to reach this point at the end of the season because the kids deserve it.
The Thunderbolts started the state tournament up against the Dakota United Hawks. They were able to handle the Hawks with an 11-9 victory and advance to the semifinals.
The semifinal game was tough, but South Washington fought every seconds to take home a 5-3 victory over Burnsville/Farmington/Lakeville.
The finals included two teams that were familiar with each other as the St. Cloud Area Slapshots and the Thunderbolts played each other in the soccer state finals last fall.
St. Cloud Area scored early and often leading to a large lead that the Thunderbolts weren't able to come back. The Slapshots ended up on top with a 16-5 final score.
"All of them had fun any second they were on the floor," Figlmiller said. "You could see it in their eyes and the smiles on their faces. I'm just so proud of how they played all season."
For Figlmiller, it'll be tough to say goodbye to the only senior on the team, Mitchell Rinnels. Rinnels has played on the three different sports since seventh grade and has been a key leader all season long.
Since Rinnels is the only senior graduating, Figlmiller is hoping to recruit a few more players and continue building the program with returning players next year.
"I can't wait for next year as the returning players know what it takes to reach the state finals," Figlmiller said. "It's sad to see the season come to an end, but I can't wait to start up another season next winter."