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Adapted Soccer: Thunderbolts earn another trip to state

The Thunderbolts gather to celebrate a return trip to the state adapted soccer tournament. This will be the team's fifth straight appearance in the state tourney. (Photo by John Molene)1 / 4
Carli Kothe and Leah Huntley of South Washington County pass the ball down court in the second half of the team's 20-0 win Wednesday that sent the Thunderbolts back to the state tournament. (Photo by John Molene)2 / 4
Goalie Bryce Smith of the Thunderbolts stops a shot in the first half. Smith recorded his fourth shutout of the season. (Photo by John Molene)3 / 4
South Washington County's Tyler Tinnucci fires a shot at the Humboldt goal in the first half. Tinnucci had nine goals in the Thunderbolts' 20-0 win. (Photo by John Molene)4 / 4

To no one’s surprise, the South Washington County Thunderbolts are headed back to state.

Once there, the key will be winning that first game.

South Washington County, now 11-0 on the season, easily qualified for the 2016 state adapted soccer tournament with a 20-0 win over visiting St. Paul Humboldt on Wednesday.

Eighth-grade forward Tyler Tinnucci scored nine goals and junior goalie Bryce Smith earned his fourth shutout of the season to lead the Thunderbolts.

Tyler Wylie added four goals and Justin Neff three for South Washington County. The Thunderbolts led 10-0 at the half and was able to play their entire roster during the game.

The Thunderbolts enter the state tournament as the Southeast Sub-Division champions and the number one state qualifier from the Southeast.

“If we think that we’re going to be able to kind of almost sleepwalk through games next weekend we’re not going to be very successful,” said Thunderbolts head coach John Culbertson.

“We need to shore up our defense,” Culbertson added. “As we all know defense wins championships. We’re in a good spot, but we can get better.”

South Washington County is a three-time Minnesota state champion, winning the title in 1997, 1998 and 2014. Last season, the Thunderbolts won the consolation championship last season after dropping their opening game.

If will be the fifth straight appearance in the state tournament for the Thunderbolts, who have a championship, a third-place finish and a consolation title during that run.

The eight-team state tournament will be played at Stillwater Area High School on Friday, Nov. 18 and Saturday, Nov. 19. The Thunderbolts open tournament play against the second-seeded team from the Northeast sub-region Friday, starting at 8 p.m.

“We’re looking forward to the next challenge,” Culbertson.