Mankato East ready to compete on biggest stage

Cougars take on Cloquet/Carlton Thursday.
Published: Oct. 26, 2022 at 3:28 PM CDT
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MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) -For the first time in program history, the Mankato East girls’ soccer team is going dancing in the state tournament.

The 19-0 Cougars feature one of the more complete team’s in this year’s Class AA field.

Not only did the team net more than 100 goals offensively this year, but East also posted 15 shut-outs with Izzy Schott, the Minnesota State commit, anchoring it all in net.

“All of our defense, we work so well together always communicating, knowing to cover for each other, when to step, not to step. We have a good connection on and off the field. That helps us translate it to the game and why we’re so successful,” said Schott, senior goalkeeper.

The rock-solid backline allows the team’s midfield and forwards to play freely up top. Headlining the attack is Kenzie Keller alongside the program’s all-time leading scorer, Ella Huettl. Those two draw plenty of attention, but production is coming from all over the pitch.

“We really work on getting our numbers forward and making sure that our chances in the box off of corners or free kicks are good. Everyone tries to go fullout, sellout, just put away the goals,” said Hailey Schlager, senior defensive midfielder.

East is the three seed in this year’s state tournament, and the Cougars are ready to make some noise at state with an understanding the competition goes up a notch at this point in the season.

“I think we really catch everyone’s eye. They never expect someone from southern Minnesota to be undefeated or get seeded at state. I think it’ll be great to show them who we are,” said Keller, senior forward.

“I think we’re going to have to step it up a level. As much as our 19-0 record would predict, we’ve had a good year, but there’s always this level of competition that you’re up against more than you’ve seen all season. As much as everyone bumps up their level, we’ll have to do the same,” said Lizzy Vetter, Mankato East head coach.

Cougars hit the field in the state quarterfinals Thursday at 5:30 against the Cloquet-Carlton Lumberjacks at Irondale High School.

We’ll take a look at some of the highlights on KEYC News Now.