Fusion U16 girls place second in state tournament

Sports Editor

Kickers finish  season 17-11-6

In a series of defense-dominant games at the State Class 1 Tournament, the Fusion Under-16 girls team earned second place.

Pool play kept fans from all four teams engaged, and in its contests, Fusion lost to North Oaks 2-1, then best MapleBrook 2-1 and Tonka United 1-0.

Fusion Under-16 girls soccer goalkeeper Lauren McCullough keeps her focus on the ball during a match in the state tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine. (Photo by Mark Trockman - trockstock.com)
Fusion Under-16 girls soccer goalkeeper Lauren McCullough keeps her focus on the ball during a match in the state tournament at the National Sports Center in Blaine. (Photo by Mark Trockman – trockstock.com)

Based on the results of pool play, Fusion earned a rematch in the finals against North Oaks. The result was exactly the same as the first time, with North Oaks claiming the state title 2-1.

Fusion head coach Dominic Duenas praised his team for a good tournament and a good season overall. The Under-16 girls posted a final record of 17-11-6.

“I am very proud of the girls,” said Duenas, who coaches the boys varsity team at Wayzata High School. “In the championship game against North Oaks, the score was tied 1-1 at the end of regulation, and it was still tied at the end of overtime, so we went to a shootout that North Oaks won 4-3.”

While a shootout loss is always a hard way to end a season, Fusion was right in the game against the best team in the state. Sarah Michel’s goal in the first half gave Fusion a 1-0 lead, and then North Oaks tied the score with a goal in the second half.

The goal was Michel’s third of the state tournament. Jolie Johnson and Ruby Ulrich also had goals during the tournament run.

Goalkeeper Lauren McCullough was a key player for Fusion throughout the season, and was especially noticeable in the state tournament with her key saves.

“Lauren kept us in every game,” said Duenas.

Of course, the defense wasn’t only goalkeeping. Duenas mentioned that Jolie Johnson had a great tournament as the center back.

For the season, Fusion scored 53 goals to 31 for the opposition. In addition to taking second place in the Minnesota Youth Soccer Association State Tournament, the girls made the semifinals of the State Cup.

Members of the team in addition to Johnson, McCullough, Michel and Ulrich are Emma Atkinson, Bella Boudreau, Sophie Heyer, Hailey Hollister, Sophia Kytonen, Abigail Maxson, Morgan Niemi, Shea O’Brien, Emily Olson, Sonja Schrader and Katie Tucker.

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