That's Rich: WHS boys soccer team ready and optimistic for success in state tournament
The Worthington High School boys soccer team opens state tournament action today against Richfield in Farmington
WORTHINGTON -- Juan Flores and the Worthington High School boys soccer team share a good feeling about today’s (Oct. 26) Minnesota state Class AA tournament matchup with Richfield. The Trojans are playing good soccer these days, and they’re sure they stand a decent chance of winning their quarterfinal and advancing to U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis for an historic semifinal.
It helps, Flores thinks, that Richfield and Worthington haven’t played each other yet this year. The Trojans seem to come out just a little more focused, Flores said, for first-time opponents.
Today’s game will begin at 7:30 p.m. in Farmington, with Richfield as the No. 5 seed and Worthington No. 4. Other quarterfinal games featured Hill-Murray (1) vs. Austin 5:30 p.m. Tuesday (Oct. 24) in Farmington, DeLa Salle (2) vs. Princeton 7:30 p.m. Wednesday in Monticello, and the CEC Lumberjacks (3) vs. St. Cloud Tech 7:30 p.m. Thursday in Irondale.
Semifinal games are set for U.S. Bank Stadium on Nov. 1 at 12:30 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. The winner of the Worthington/Richfield showdown plays the 12:30 game.
The third-place game is Nov. 2 at West St. Paul Regional Athletics Center. The championship is at U.S. Bank on Nov. 4 beginning at 2:45 p.m.
Worthington owns a 17-2 record, with losses only to Marshall and Holy Angels by 2-1 scores. Richfield, which beat St. Thomas Academy 4-0 in the Section 3AA championship, is 10-4-4.
“They’re like us ethnicity-wise, with a lot of Hispanic kids. They have good technical skills and good passing skills,” Flores said about the Spartans. “They’re going to be a very tough team. They’re a physical team.”
The Spartans are led by midfielder Joshua Olea Cortez (No. 11) and forward Antwane Ruiz (No. 22), who Flores says work very well together.
Worthington graduated 16 seniors from last year’s state tournament team, but what was once considered something of a rebuilding unit in 2022 quickly developed into much more than that. Just four current Trojans saw extensive action in 2021 -- junior forward Jonathan Banegas, senior goalkeeper Osmin Pineda, senior midfielder Santos Orellana and senior defender Oscar Galvez.
Metro teams don’t bother Worthington, said Flores, who pointed out that Worthington summer teams see a lot of metro-area teams in the hotter months. Those metro teams, said the WHS skipper, tend to be heavy on the tactical side, and in discipline and structure.
The Trojans, on the other hand, are smaller, but they’re athletic and fast. Worthington tactics, said Flores, have grown.
Worthington has been to three state tournaments in recent years -- in 2017, 2018 and 2021. They have not won a quarterfinal game yet, but they’ve been very close.
“I think kids like Jonathan, Osmin, Santos and Oscar use that as motivation. The team knows that it can go either way this year again,” Flores said.