They call it Super Soccer Saturday at Minneapolis South. A celebration of soccer at the Minneapolis city high school where all boys and girls teams, freshman through varsity, play a conference game against rival Minneapolis Southwest. The culmination of this year’s event was the #3 ranked boys 2A varsity South soccer team hosting #6 ranked Minneapolis Southwest.
South’s head coach Tamba Johnson says the rivalry between the two schools goes back a long ways.
“There’s no love lost between these two teams,” said Johnson. “They’re all friends off the field and many of them play on the same teams in the summer. But it’s South High pride. Southwest has their pride too and that’s what we play for. We are both representing the city and sometimes we get overlooked. But these are both two very good teams.”
Those two “very good teams” faced off against each other in the late afternoon matchup that saw a sometimes very physical battle.
Southwest got on the scoreboard first with a goal in the 22nd minute by Mohamud Abdi. He latched onto a loose ball 14 yards out from goal and blasted his shot past South goalkeeper Miles Westrich.
It looked as if Southwest would go into the locker room at halftime with the lead, but South’s Elliot Cassutt had other plans. The junior forward, who set scoring records in the state last season, equalized by taking a long throw-in and heading it in to tie the score at 1-1.
With the score leveled the two teams came out of halftime with a new level of intensity with only 40 minutes to make their case.
It was Southwest who took the lead again with a goal by Liban Ayanle. Abdi took a corner kick awarded to the Lakers which found the head of Ayanle. While facing square to the goal, he redirected the ball and slotted it past Tigers backup keeper Taylor Schertler who had been inserted into the lineup in the 1st half. The goal came in the 58th minute of play.
It took South only 3 minutes to draw the game even once again. And once again it was Cassutt who was up to the task. He received a ball played in from the right of the box and struck a hard shot to the far post to level the score at 2-2.
The game would stay tied for most of the second half with several yellow cards, a red card and lots of physical play. But it was Cassutt who took the game into his own hands and scored the game winner with 15 seconds left of regulation time.
Cassutt scooped up a loose ball at midfield and with the clock ticking down turned and headed full steam towards the Lakers goal. He unleashed a blast from 22 yards out that found the top inside netting. The goal was the game winner for the Tigers and it earned Cassutt a hat-trick as well as praise from his coach and teammates.
Asked to explain the lead up to the game winning goal, Cassutt, who couldn’t stop smiling, said he didn’t remember anything about the play.
“I just remember seeing the ball at my feet and thinking, “let’s just do this,’” said Cassutt. “I was near the goal so I thought I might as well go for it. When I first shot it I remember thinking that it was going over the goal. Luckily it dropped a bit for me and it went in. It’s an amazing feeling.”
“These are two of the best teams in the state and I think you saw some of the best players in the state competing right here today,” said Johnson. “Thankfully for us one of them (Cassutt) scored all three goals for us today to win the game. We didn’t play our best game but with the emotion that this game draws out in each team, there can’t be a better match around than this one.”
South goalkeeper, Miles Westrich, was knocked out of the game in the first half after a collision with a Southwest player. Both players went after the ball with Westrich on the losing end. You might think South’s replacement keeper Taylor Schertler might have felt some nerves coming into a game under those circumstances. But Scherler was up to the task, making several very good saves and none better than a series of consecutive saves as Southwest peppered the backup keeper with shots towards the end of the contest.
The South Tigers now lead the Minneapolis conference at 5-0-0. The Southwest Lakers are in 2nd place with a 5-1-0 record.