The Hastings Raiders boys’ soccer team ended their regular season this last week with losses to the North St. Paul at home 3-0 and at Hill-Murray 2-1. With the two losses, the Raiders end the regular season with an 5-7-2 overall record and they took fifth in the Metro East Conference (3-4-1).
Hastings sits at seventh in their section according to QRF, just ahead of White Bear Lake who they beat early on in the season. Head coach Jamie Swanson said he believes his team could receive a slightly better seed than that and that Section 4AA is wide open.
“Our strength of schedule is going to help us. Beating White Bear Lake and Tartan is going to help us. Playing Stillwater close probably isn’t going to help us because they’re probably not going to get top seed, but you know I think we’ll probably end up in the No. 6 spot again,” he said. “For me outside of Woodbury and East Ridge, I think anybody can beat anybody else and even those two teams are vulnerable. It just seems like a very odd year where there’s quite a bit of parity in Class AA and I think we could see literally anything happen.”
The Raiders went 2-3 against section opponents this fall with wins over White Bear Lake and Tartan and losses to Park, Stillwater and North St. Paul.
Swanson proved prophetic as Hastings earned the No. 6 seed in Section 4AA and will travel to Hwy. 61-rival Park on Tuesday, Oct. 8, to face the No. 3 Wolfpack. The winner goes on to face the winner of No. 2 Woodbury and No. 7 White Bear Lake on Thursday, Oct. 10.
Heading into sections Swanson said that he and his coaching staff will continue to emphasize defense, but they are still looking for offense.
“Well we’re going to just reiterate the fact that we’re going to play great defense and on offense we’re looking for heroes,” he said. “We’re looking for a hero man, somebody is going to pop up, I’m really curious to see who it’s going to be because there’s been a couple of kids who have been really, really close. Once the rubber hits the road, I think one of them is going to step up and do something special and as a coaching staff we’re ready for it and just really curious to see who it’s going to be.”
Losses to the Polars and Pioneers
The Raider boys and North St. Paul played on Tuesday, Oct.1, and were scoreless after the first half but when the second half started, things started to get a little weird. Junior goalkeeper Matthew Qualy played in the goal during the first half but was then moved to the midfield for the second half to help facilitate the Raiders’ offense. He was replaced by sophomore Carter Homb, who was then hurt just minutes into the second half. Rather than move Qualy back into goal, senior forward Brad Route was put in as goalie and he really played well. Swanson explained the team’s strategy.
“The plan was to throw Carter into a situation where we needed a goal, if we were ahead in that first half we would have stayed status quo,” he said. “But we were looking for a goal and we were hoping Matthew could have provided a spark, he’s a pretty exciting player when he gets out on the field. His motor just runs and we thought maybe we could make something happen and use some fresh legs to maybe throw North St. Paul off a bit in the second half.”
“The unfortunate thing was that Carter got hit and came out three minutes in and then things just kind of steamrolled from there,” Swanson continued. “C.J. (Brenny) got an elbow in the back of the head and we were kind of playing it safe on him and after he got clearance from Adam (the trainer) we decided to put him back in but not at defense because he would start to take too many header balls. So we were trying to protect him and with him not back there it just wasn’t quite the same.”
North St. Paul scored with just over 33 minutes left in the second half and the score stayed at 1-0 Polars until the final minutes. They then scored another goal with 3 minutes, 30 seconds left on a weird play where both teams stopped playing expecting a foul to be called on the Polars but none came and they scored after a one-on-one with Route. Another goal with under 30 seconds left and the final was 3-0. North St. Paul outshot Hastings 26-7.
Route played the entire second half in goal and Swanson described the decision to go with him in goal as opposed to another position player.
“When we need an extra goalkeeper to jump into an activity in training, he’s (Route) pretty much on it almost every time,” he said. “Whether that’s whether he wants to take a little break from the running around or he enjoys it, he did pretty good in training so that’s why I kind of looked around, I said ‘Brad do you want to give it a go?’ and he was like ‘heck yeah coach’ and that was all I needed. It was fun to see him do pretty well.”
On Thursday, Oct. 3, the Raiders traveled to Hill-Murray for their regular season finale and fell 2-1. Senior midfielder Tyler Goebel scored Hastings’ lone goal as they tallied just five shots. Qualy, back in goal against the Pioneers, had seven saves.