During the Lake Conference high school soccer season, Ellen Williams of Hopkins and Sarah Manning of Minnetonka are archrivals.
The summer is a different story, though, because they are teammates on the Tonka United Blue Under-17 girls traveling team.
In the first round of the USA Cup July 17 at the National Sports Center in Blaine, Manning scored Tonka United’s lone goal in a 1-1 tie with White Bear Excel. The assist went to Williams.
“Ellen crossed the ball with a left-footed kick,” said Manning. “The ball came to me in front and I tapped it across the goal.”
“I looked down there and the ball was in the net,” said Williams. “It just happened … I was kind of surprised.”
It was Manning’s fourth goal of the season and Williams’ fifth assist.
“Tonka United Blue has players from five different high schools,” said Williams. “So when we came together, we started with the basics.”
There was some chemistry in place. Manning and Williams, for instance, have played on the same youth team since they were fourth-graders.
While Manning and Williams came through in key roles in the opening-round tie, Hopkins High’s Veronica Mestad was equally vital to the team’s success.
The goalie had some key saves in the second half when White Bear Excel applied heavy pressure.
“This team does not have a regular goalkeeper,” said Mestad. “People all take turns. This was my third time in goal. I am normally a field player, but I volunteered for this. It got kind of scary in the second half.”
Mestad, who has become fond of goalkeeping, said she might mention to Hopkins High coach Keith Pavelka that she played in goal part-time this summer.
The USA Cup was an exciting event for the Tonka United girls and a cultural experience as well with 958 teams, representing 22 states and 16 countries.
In its other USA Cup pool games, Tonka United Blue beat East Select of Minnesota 3-1, tied Westside Wyld of Minnesota 1-1 and lost to a Canadian team, St. Catherine’s, 4-0.
Tonka United Blue advanced to bracket play on Friday, July 20, and played only one match. Eden Prairie Soccer Club eliminated Tonka United Blue 3-0 in the quarterfinal round.
Other members of the Tonka United Blue team are Sadie Byron, Lindsay Carlson, Seungjin April Chung, Allison Cornelius, Megan Greiner, Hannah Haaland, Sara Hanson, Kori Klaysmat, Britta Lund, Asia Owens, Christine Sage, Alie Slagle, Courtney Smith and Jacqueline Terrell.