The Waconia boys' soccer team has advanced to the state tournament for the first time in team history.
The Waconia boys’ soccer team has advanced to the state tournament for the first time in team history.

Update: The No. 2 state seeded Prairie Seeds Academy has been disqualified from the state tournament after discovery of an ineligible player. The bracket will remain the same, but Marshall School (Duluth) will earn a bye. 

The Wildcats still play Oct. 25 at 5:30 against St. Paul Academy at Hopkins. 

It took 99 minutes and 43 seconds for the Waconia boys’ soccer team to win the Section 6A final in a 1-0 contest, earning the team’s first ever state tournament berth in front of a packed home crowd on Oct. 16. Waconia defeated No. 3 Breck in the Wildcats’ third section final in five seasons.

“I figured this had to be our year to break through our section and make it to state,” head coach Tyrel Seim said.

Despite double-digit shots on goal by Waconia, regulation time ended in a 0-0 stalemate, driving the game into not one, but two, sudden death overtime periods.

When thirty seconds of play separated the Wildcats and Mustangs from a shootout, Waconia senior William Schultz was fouled in the corner deep in Breck territory. With 17 seconds to go, senior Mitch Zebell then hit a “wicked” free kick over the Breck goalie’s head that caught the upper corner of the net, scoring for the Wildcats and ending the game.

Fans flooded the field to celebrate the team’s biggest goal and win in program history, according to Seim. For the Wildcats’ 13th shutout of the season, senior goalie Brandon Gonzalez had seven saves. The Waconia offense had 24 shots on goal throughout the game.

Needless to say, the Wildcats are very excited for their first state tournament appearance.

“It’s been a long time coming for a Waconia team to make it to state so I feel great that these guys, who it seems like have been around forever, were the ones who were able to get us there,” Seim said.

At the state soccer banquet, senior defender Ben Kullman was awarded All-State honors, becoming the first player in Waconia program history to have earned such an honor. Gonzalez and Schultz were both named All-State Honorable Mention.

Other state tournament entrants include Mankato East, Marshall School (Duluth), Prairie Seeds Academy, Rochester Lourdes, St. Cloud Cathedral, St. Paul Como Park, and St. Paul Academy/Summit School.

The Wildcats, who are unseeded in the tournament, will face No. 1 St. Paul Academy tonight, Oct. 25 at 5:30 p.m. The game will be played on neutral ground at Hopkins High School. This will be the Section 3 champion Spartans 17th state tournament appearance. The team has finished fourth in the state the last two seasons. St. Paul Academy has won four state titles, the most recent in 1994.

“We knew that no matter what happened we were going to get a tough first round game,” Seim said. “No. 1 in state St. Paul Academy will have a great team and they have some great individual players.”

But Seim said the undefeated Wildcats, with their strong all-senior defense and experienced squad, are ready.

“Our team doesn’t panic and plays smart,” he said.“I think we are going to give them a good game and might surprise a lot of people on Thursday.”

The winner will play the victor of No. 4 St. Paul Como/No. 5 St. Cloud Cathedral on Oct. 29.

While the Class A bracket has been set, it is subject to change by the Minnesota State High School League. The League is investigating a series of incidents surrounding the Section 5A championship game between Prairie Seeds Academy and Totino-Grace.