Robins head into state PI adapted soccer as No. 1 seed

Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka’s Jordan Klein puts a shot on net in a game last year. Klein has turned into a defensive specialist for the Robins this season. (Photo by Bill Jones –Contributing Photographer)

The Robbinsdale/Hopkins/Mound-Westonka Robins PI adapted soccer team wrapped up its seventh consecutive North Conference championship late last month.

Now, it is time to focus on what would be state title No. 8 for the state’s most decorated adapted sports program.

The Robins will be the No. 1 seed from the North Conference at this week’s PI state adapted soccer tournament, which will be held Nov. 16 and 17 at Stillwater High School.

That much isn’t lost on head coach Marcus Onsum, who despite his program’s stirring string of success, said there were plenty of questions whether or not this group would perform that such a level.

“We have 21 players, which is the most we’ve had in a long time, but 13 of them are sophomores or younger,” Onsum said. “We went through a lot of growing pains. The kids had to dig back and rely on some of the basic skills to get the job done, and so far, they’ve done that.”

Annually touted as one of the top offensive teams in  state adapted soccer circles, the Robins took a different route in compiling the undefeated record they will take into tournament play this weekend.

“We realized early on that, even though we were going to be able to score some goals, offense wasn’t going to be our strong point,” said Onsum. “We really had to buckle down and play solid defense this year to give ourselves a chance. The kids started working hard right from the get-go, and they really were one of our best defensive teams we’ve ever had.”

Goaltender Charlie Wittmer, along with defensive stalwarts Tiffany Graf and Jordan Klein built a nearly impenetrable wall on the Robins back end.

In their most recent outing, a 4-3 victory over Anoka-Hennepin that locked up both the No. 1 state tournament seed and the North Conference championship, Wittmer stopped 26 of the 29 shots he faced, and both Graff and Klein registered four blocked shots.

Tyler Sarff scored twice on the other end, Jeremy Jost also added a goal and eight-grade sensation Chaun Johnson scored his team leading 17th of the season in the win.

“Chaun was a scoring machine all season,” Onsum said. “He just has a huge athletically oriented mind. He’s small and he’s young and a lot of teams kind of forget about him, but he made a point to make them pay for it.”

That sort of attitude might be a must this weekend. The Robins enter the tournament undefeated, but Anoka-Hennepin is in the field, as is undefeated Dakota United form the South Conference.

“The kids are confident, but there are great teams that are going to be there,” said Onsum. “We’ll need to keep playing well defensively. Regardless of how many goals we score, if we can prevent them on defense we’ll have just as good of a shot to win it as they have in any of the last five or six years.”