The Willmar boys soccer team has had one of its best seasons in school history.

The Cardinals can make it the best by winning Section 6AA, advancing to the state tournament and placing.

Willmar has the No. 1 seed in the 6AA playoffs. The Cardinals open the playoffs at 4 p.m. Thursday at Hodapp Field against No. 8 Big Lake. Willmar (14-0-2) and the Hornets (2-9-3) did not play during the regular season. The Cardinals have a QRF power ranking of No. 2 in AA. Big Lake is No. 57. There are 64 Class AA teams.

A win there puts Willmar into the semifinals against the winner of No. 4 Rockford/Howard Lake-Waverly-Winsted (9-3-2) and No. 5 Becker (7-6-2). That game is at 5 p.m. Oct. 19 at the high seed.

The rest of the bracket’s first-round matches are No. 7 Zimmerman (5-8-1) at No. 2 Princeton (10-3-2) and No. 6 St. Francis (6-9-0) at No. 3 Monticello (9-6-1).

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The championship is set for Oct. 21 at a neutral site.

“Basically, it’s us and the Mississippi 8 Conference,” Willmar head coach Jeff Winter said earlier this season.

Princeton won the Mississippi 8 with a 7-0 record. Willmar beat the Tigers on Sept. 11 at Princeton, 3-1. Willmar tied Monticello 1-1 on Oct. 2 in Willmar. Those are the only two Mississippi 8 teams Willmar has played.

The Cardinals won the Central Lakes Conference championship and hope to earn their first state tournament berth since 2016 and third in school history. They also went to state in 2008.

The quarterfinals in Class AA are Oct. 22-24 at various sites around the state. The semifinals and finals Oct. 28-29 and Oct. 31 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

This year’s Willmar team is senior-dominated and passes extremely well. It’ll be a tough team to beat from here on out.

Class AA girls soccer

The Willmar girls soccer team earned the No. 4 seed in Section 6AA and has a home match with No. 5 Big Lake at 4 p.m. Wednesday at Hodapp Field. Willmar (10-4-2) tied Big Lake (x-x-x) 2-2 on Sept. 11 in Willmar. This should be a close one.

The Willmar/Big Lake winner faces the winner of No. 1 St. Francis (15-0-0) and No. 8 Becker (2-9-4). St. Francis has the No. 2 QRF ranking in the state in Class AA.

Other first-round matches feature No. 7 Hutchinson/Glencoe-Silver Lake (5-9-1) at No. 2 Monticello (8-7-1) and No. 6 Princeton (6-9-1) at No. 3 Zimmerman (10-5-0).

The semifinals are 5 p.m. next Tuesday at the high seed. The final is Oct. 21 at a neutral site.

The state tournament begins with the quarterfinals Oct. 22-24 at various locations. The semifinals and final are Oct. 28-29 and Oct. 31 at U.S. Bank Stadium in Minneapolis.

Willmar has never qualified for state in girls soccer.

Class 8A boys soccer

There will be a really good playoff boys soccer match in Willmar on Wednesday and it won’t just be at Hodapp Field. Minnewaska plays Central Minnesota Christian in an East Sub-Section 8A match at Community Christian School in Willmar.

CMCS (7-6-0) has the No. 2 seed in the East and Minnewaska (8-5-0) is the No. 3 seed. The Bluejays beat the Lakers 1-0 on Sept. 3 in Prinsburg.

The CMCS/Minnewaska winner plays the winner of No. 1 St. Cloud Cathedral (12-2-0) and whoever wins a play-in game Tuesday between No. 4 St. John’s Prep (5-8-1) and No. 5 Melrose (0-13-0). That’ll be Saturday at the high seed. The Saturday winner advances to play the West Sub-Section 8A winner at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday in Sauk Centre. It’ll be the first time Sauk Centre, which has a synthetic turf field, will host a section soccer final.

The West teams at No. 1 Pelican Rapids (9-4-1), No. 2 Hillcrest Lutheran of Fergus Falls (11-4-1), No. 3 Fergus Falls (2-13-0) and No. 4 Crookston (1-12-0).

Cathedral is the second favorite with a No. 3 QRF ranking in Class A. Pelican Rapids is No. 8. CMCS is No. 20 and Minnewaska is No. 33.

CLC top performers

Willmar’s Cullen Gregory has been named a Central Lakes Conference Performer of the Week. The sophomore defensive end had four tackles, including two sacks and two tackles for loss, in Willmar’s 24-8 victory at Rocori.

Other CLC top formers are:

  • From St. Cloud Apollo, football player Andrew Karls, boys soccer player Evan Sufka, diver Lauren O’Neal and boys cross-country runner Jackson Gerads;

  • From Fergus Falls, boys soccer players Piper Andrews;

  • From Sauk Rapids, girls soccer player Chloe Reiter and girls cross-country runner Faith Bogle;

  • From Sartell, girls soccer player Jenna Jansky, boys cross-country runner Cameron Huse, girls cross-country runner Megan Driste and volleyball player Courtney Stutsman;

  • From St. Cloud Tech, girls swimmer Aliina Gustin, girls tennis player Brooke Wilfong and volleyball player Arissa Peterson;

  • From Brainerd, girls tennis players Avery Anakkala and Claire Erdal.

Hall of Fame nominees

The West Central Area Baseball Hall of Fame is seeking nominations for its 2022 class.

The Kandiyohi County Historical Society and the Willmar Stingers began the hall in 2014. The area is defined as a 45-minute radius around Willmar which includes communities such as Glenwood, Montevideo, Redwood Falls and Dassel-Cokato.

Players must be from that area and be featured in one of three areas: professional, amateur or community involvement.

To nominate someone, a form is available at www.kandiyohicountyhistory.com or be contacting Jill Wohnoutka at the historical society. Her number is 320-235-188 or send an email at director@kandiyohicountyhistory.com.

Nominations must be submitted by Oct. 29,2021.