Como Park Boys Soccer Team Makes Fifth Consecutive State Tournament Appearance
The Como Park Senior High School boys soccer team made its fifth consecutive appearance at the Minnesota High School State Soccer Tournament last week. The Cougars beat Mahtomedi 1-0 in the Section 4A Championship to earn a place in the tournament.
The Cougars (11-6-3) lost to No. 3 seeded St. Thomas Academy (16-4-0) in the state quarterfinals match on Oct. 26 at Chisago Lakes High School.
“Our game plan was to play simpler, but I have to give all the credit to St. Thomas,” Como Park coach Jonah Fields told the Pioneer Press. “I thought their energy was terrific, and we just couldn’t settle into our game plan.”
Despite the loss, Fields is proud of the way the Cougars played this season.
“Making an appearance at the state tournament for five consecutive years is truly historic,” Fields said. “It shows that the soccer program at Como has sustained excellence. It is a treat for me as a coach to have such a terrific group of young men to represent me, and our community as a whole.”
Each year, the Cougars are made up of a mix of returning varsity players, kids who have come up with the program from the freshmen, B-squad and junior varsity teams and kids who are new arrivals to Saint Paul.
The younger players may be very gifted, but the opportunity to play on varsity is blocked by upperclassmen -- and they have to wait their turn, Como’s coach said. Every year there are kids who step up into a role when they are needed.
“The returning players embrace the role of sharing our program’s values -- hard work, respect, and do the little things right,” Fields said. “The incoming players understand that putting the team first is the path to success.”
Three Questions with Como Park Boys Soccer Coach Jonah Fields
Could you describe this year's team?
This year's team has 10 returning players and nine new varsity players. Ten of our players are seniors, six are juniors and two are sophomores. There is one freshman on the varsity team.
This year’s team has a record of 11 wins, six losses and three ties. We finished tied for third place in the City Conference. We scored 46 goals and conceded 26.
Our players are exceptionally talented. They work hard and meet the high expectations of their coaches. We play a difficult schedule. Besides the challenging conference games, we do non-conference games against Washington Tech (Rice Street Rivalry Game), Humboldt (Mayor's Cup) and Central. We also played Orono, the defending state champions, who beat us in overtime last year in the state tournament.
What are you most proud of?
I am proud that this team continued a tradition of volunteering at Northwest Como Rec Center with the youth soccer program.
I am also proud of a message I received from the coach of Hill Murray's team after we beat them in the playoffs. He said that he was impressed with how calm our team remained during the game, and the good sportsmanship they showed both during and after the game.
I am also proud of this message I received from Hill Murray coach Chris Zupfer following our playoff game:
Just a quick note to congratulate you on the win last night. We threw everything we had at you guys and you remained calm and let your skill and system take care of things. I was very impressed with how your guys handled themselves in victory. We were clearly emotional with the loss and your guys were first class all the way. Wishing you guys the best at state. Wouldn’t mind saying we lost to the champs! Good luck.”
When an opposing coach notices that your team shows respect and skill, you feel proud as a coach. I'm also proud that the boys support the girls team, conduct themselves like responsible student athletes during the school day, and have strong friendships with each other.
What challenges did the team overcome this year on their way to another Section Championship?
They lost four consecutive games but became a stronger team as a result.
About the team
Captain Tyler Johnson has been on varsity since his freshman year. This is his fourth state tournament trip, including the state tournament championship in 2013.
On the team since his sophomore year, Kevin Yao is making this his third trip to state.
The other eight returning players are Bwe Doh Htoo, Tha Dah, Nathan Stover, Robin Htoo, captain Law Htoo, Mohamud Adan, Kher Lin Kyaw, and Dah Bleh Taw.
Our new players on the team this year are seniors Archie Gjerdrum, Shar Reh and Henry Aryiku; juniors Rafael Queudo, Saw Johny, and Kobby Owu; sophomores Mu Ku Shi and Pa Sad Tit; and freshman Abdelaziz Ahmed.
- Bwe Doh Htoo leads the team with 11 goals and five assists.
- Kobby Owu is second with eights goals and four assists.
- Sophomore goaltender Mu Ku Shi has seven shutouts this year, including all three playoff games leading up to the state tournament.
- Defenseman Tyler Johnson was named to the Star Tribune’s All-Metro soccer team