Every time Blaine buzzed, Eastview answered the bell.
Led by two goals from senior midfielder Jacob Opheim and standout play both offensively and on defense, Eastview won its first state boys soccer championship Thursday with a 3-2 win over Blaine in the Metrodome.
Third-seeded Eastview led 1-0 and 2-1, but both times Blaine came back to tie the score. Finally a goal by Opheim—his second of the night—with a little over 16 minutes to play, proved too much for the Bengals to overcome.
It was a sweet finish for a hard-working group of seniors, many of whom played and narrowly lost in last year’s finals, said head coach Scott Gustafson.
“I’m most happy for my seniors,” said Gustafson. “They’re great competitors. They’ve been with me for four years and they really showed their class act tonight in how they went about their business.
“And then the team as a whole,” Gustafson added. “At the start of the season everybody had written us off with so many kids graduating and moving on to other things. It was a work in progress and they found a way to build on it throughout the second half of the season and through playoffs and culminated with a state championship that we wished we would have had last year, too.”
“Last year’s team, we had a lot of skill and we were a great team and we did work together a lot,” said senior defender Jonathan Lenz. “Eden Prairie played a great game and figured out how to shut us down. This year, we didn’t play the best game, but we responded every single time Blaine came up with a big goal. Blaine would score big and then we’d come right back and find a way to put it in the net.”
Eastview senior Michael Stockton got the Lightning on the scoreboard just 2:12 into the game off an assist by junior defender Sam Fluegge. Coming from the corner, Stockton put a header into the net to make it 1-0.
Halfway through the first half, Eastview took a 2-1 lead on a long ball from Fluegge that Opheim headed into an empty net.
Eastview led 2-1 at the break.
Blaine battled back and knotted the score on a shot by Zachary Wright 60:29 into the game.
But Eastview again had the answer as junior midfielder Pierce Erickson set up Opheim with an elegant pass back inside which Opheim directed past the goalkeeper at the 63:44 mark.
Sophomore goalie Kyle Lamott got the win in net for the Lightning, recording five saves.
Fluegge, Erickson, Opheim and defender Jonathan Lenz were all named to the Class AA all-tournament team.
“I thought we worked as a team well,” said senior attacker Jimmy Loi. “We got the ball up there, up to the full offense. And we finished our chances pretty well.”
Blaine outshot Eastview 11-9.
The Bengals finished 16-4-1.
Eastview finished the season at 15-2-5, after going 9-2-5 during the regular season. The Lightning won three straight games in Section 3AA to advance to state and then knocked off Moorhead, Stillwater and Blaine to take the Class AA crown.