Thunderbolts take third at state
Almost all of the chips were stacked against the Thunderbolts.
Their goalie was a rookie, senior offensive leader Bryce Smith was out with a broken toe and North Suburban had just scored a demoralizing goal to force overtime.
But then there was little-used freshman Jack Swedahl, who happily came to the rescue with a game-winning goal in overtime that gave South Washington County a 3-2 victory.
"I just kicked it and it went in," a modest Swedahl said. "And it was a good shot."
Swedahl — mostly a defensive player prior to the tournament — switched to offense Saturday, Nov. 18, and kicked the Thunderbolts to a third-place finish in the CI Division of the Adapted Softball State Tournament at Stillwater.
"I'm very happy and I'm happy I didn't let my team down," said Swedahl.
This was very much a team victory, however, as the Thunderbolts offense, defense and coaching all rose to the occasion.
Tyler Tinnucci scored South Washington County's other two goals, one in each half, en route to repeat honors on the all-tournament team. Freshman Nathan Ponder of the Thunderbolts was also named to the all-tournament team.
"It was a heck of a game," said Tinnucci. "We had the same thing back in the qualifying rounds and it's great for Jack for making this goal. It's great for him. I'm very proud for this team."
Tinnucci gave the Thunderbolts leads of 1-0 and 2-1, and the 2-1 lead looked like it might hold up until North Suburban scored an improbable goal to tie the game with 10 seconds left in regulation.
The Cougars rightly concentrated on keeping Tinnucci in check in the overtime and that set the stage for Swedahl to power in the game-winner.
"A little less drama would be nice every once in a while," said South Washington County head coach John Culbertson. "Last night we rallied from 4-to-1 down in the second half to win in overtime.
"We were resilient," added Culbertson. "I guess that's the key word for this weekend is that everybody participated and everybody was resilient. The seniors led, as seniors should do and we might have found our new goalie."
Smith's injury altered both the offense and the defense for the Thunderbolts. With Smith on the bench, the coaches pulled Carson Rinnels out of goal for the front line. That left seventh-grader Lanz the man in the net and he came through time after time. Lanz allowed only a penalty kick in addition to North Suburban's last second score.
"It was very difficult," Tinnucci said regarding the loss of Smith. "With Devon now, he actually fixed the hole. It was great for him to get a shot as a seventh-grader to get this opportunity to play here at state and win a third place."
Smith's absence put a lot of the scoring pressure on Tinnucci, and he delivered.
"He's one of the toughest competitors in my 16 years with the Thunderbolts I've ever seen," said Culbertson.
Seventh-grader Devon Lanz stepped in and did yeoman's work in goal, and was credited with nine saves.
"He's only played about 15 minutes the whole season," Culbertson said of Lanz.
The third-place trophy was just the latest in a long line of hardware in the state adapted soccer tournament for the Thunderbolts. Last fall the team was fourth. South Washington County has also won state championships in 1997, 1998 and 2014.
"Unbelievably great season," said Culbertson. "We're sad to see our seniors go, but we're only losing four seniors."
Park Center 15, Thunderbolts 4
The Park Center Pirates cruised to a 15-4 win over the South Washington County Thunderbolts in the semifinals of the 2017 Adapted Soccer State Tournament.
Each team scored within the first three minutes of the half, but then the Park Center offense went on a tear, scoring 10 more goals before the halftime break. The Thunderbolts also scored again in the middle of the half, but after the first 20 minutes of play, the score was 11-2 in favor of the Pirates.
The Thunderbolts had three different players score led by Tinnucci's two goals. Nicholas Jones and Brian Barcelon also found the back of the net for the Thunderbolts. Freshman goalie Carson Rinnels snagged a game-high 15 saves during the contest.
Thunderbolts 6, Anoka-Hennepin 5 (OT)
South Washington County advanced to the quarterfinals with a hard-fought 6-5 win in overtime over Anoka Hennepin.
Tinnucci scored the game-winning goal in overtime to lift the Thunderbolts over the Mustangs.
Anoka-Hennepin led 2-1 at halftime.
Tinnucci scored four times for the Thunderbolts. Teammate Bryce Smith had two key goals for South Washington County.