Despite MSHSL Board ruling, many still hoping for state soccer tournaments

The fight to play high school state soccer tournaments this fall continues.

Based on state recommendations, the Minnesota State High School League has aimed to keep play regional this fall. State tournaments bringing teams from throughout the state to a central hub would go against those efforts therefore the League have voted against holding any state tournaments this fall.

But that position continues to be challenged.

Edina girls soccer coach Katie Aafeldt sent a state tournament proposal to the Minnesota State High School League last week, and in an email sent to the MSHSL and Gov. Tim Walz, high school soccer parent Joseph Orlando called for an emergency board meeting to be scheduled to consider “an alternate safer state tournament for high school soccer.”

Orlando cited a petition started by Hill-Murray soccer player Ariadna Vargas calling for state soccer tournaments that currently touts more than 5,800 signatures.

Aafeldt sent a proposed a girls state tournament featuring Class A and Class 2A teams held at metro high schools without programs, trophies, medals or third-place games. Host schools ranging from Bake to Edina to Hill-Murray would provide volunteers and site managers, and costs would be covered by ticket fees.

The Star Tribune reported this week that MSHSL executive director Erich Martens turned it down, quoting an email from Martens that read, “Our Board has made the decision to maintain a focus on a postseason that is based locally, concludes at the section level, and is in alignment with the recommendation of the Minnesota Department of Health to reduce the gathering of individuals, especially from a variety of communities.”

That’s been the MSHSL’s position since the Board of Directors came to the decision to end fall sports seasons at the section level back at their Oct. 1 meeting. At that meeting, the Board even voted down the idea of a “Super regional” model that would have pitted two nearby section champions for one final game.

Orlando’s tournament format for boys and girls soccer featured all outdoor school fields, no fans and no overnight hotel stays, with all games played within a three-hour drive or less for competing teams.

The MSHSL did hold an emergency meeting in late September to reconsider the placements of the football and volleyball seasons, during which it was decided to move both sports back to this fall. No such meeting is currently scheduled to reconsider soccer state tournaments and, with section play set to wrap next week, time is running out for those holding out hope for a tournament.

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