BVS makes history with fifth state championship title


Ali Browne

WE ARE THE (STATE) CHAMPIONS. The team celebrates their accomplishment after captains Nathan Cohen, Cooper Bollinger Danielson and Yash Kshirsagar present the plaque to the group.

For the first time in 28 years, the Spartans are state champions. Spartan Boys Varsity earned their fifth state title with a hard-fought 2-0 win over St. Anthony Village last night.

The journey to the state championship has been a long one. Last year, BVS entered the section tournament with a record of 7-2-4. With high confidence in their ability to secure the 2021 section title and advance to the state tournament, they named their team group chat “Bank Heist” in hopes of being crowned class A state champions at U.S. Bank Stadium. Unfortunately, their season ended in the section finals when they lost 0-1 against Humboldt High School, and the team never reached the bank. The heartbreaking finish to the previous season made the result of the championship even sweeter.

“It was amazing to come all the way back after the tough loss in the section final last year and feel the satisfaction of a victory. The job is finished,” senior Tommy Verhey said.

It was amazing to come all the way back after the tough loss in the section final last year and feel the satisfaction of a victory. The job is finished.

— Tommy Verhey

After the team had a disappointing end to the 2021 season, they continued to face challenges as key players were injured earlier this fall. With captain Yash Kshirsagar breaking his femur within two minutes of their season opener and midfielder Orion Kim breaking his thumb later in the same game, the rest of the team had to step up. Despite these obstacles, they secured 3 wins to begin the season but later fell into a discouraging streak of two ties and three losses. Still, the team showed determination, knowing their hard work would eventually help them succeed.

“In the first eight games, we only had three wins, and that can really affect the mental state of the players […] but being able to come out to the field every day with the boys and knowing that they’ll give 100% for me, and I’ll give 100% for them was really something special,” forward Ezra Straub said.

After securing a win against Mounds Park Academy on Sept. 20 and one final tie in the homecoming game against Minneapolis South, something shifted in the team, and the work they had been putting in to adjust their mindset and truly play as a unit began to pay off. By the end of the section 3A tournament, in which they emerged as champions, the team was on a 7-game winning streak.

From there, the Spartans dominated in their early appearances in the state tournament. They quickly found a rhythm through communication, organization, and selflessness on the field, which helped them achieve decisive 6-0 wins in both the state quarter and semi-finals. Outstanding individual and team performances in these games led them to the game they had been working toward for so long: the state final.

After training in the days leading up to the championship and watching films of their opponents, the Spartans came out ready to fight. Both teams played with aggression and intensity right after kickoff, putting both defensive lines under pressure and setting the tone for a fast-paced game.

As the Spartans stayed patient and adjusted to the Huskies’ style of play, they began taking more shots, and it was only a matter of time before they got on the scoreboard in the 17th minute. After midfielder Awaale Osman moved the Huskies’ goalie out of position with a breakaway and fired a shot on goal, a defender attempted to clear the ball. Forward Cooper Bollinger Danielson pounced on the rebound and fired the ball into the back of the net.

A mere 8 minutes later, the Spartans deepened their lead. Off of a well-placed corner kick by Kshirsagar, captain Nathan Cohen ran through a pack of defenders and sent the ball into the goal with a header.

While the team had secured a comfortable lead, the Huskies upped the offensive pressure. Still, defenders Cohen, Ben Chen, Finn Sullivan, and Arlo Zirps stood their ground and worked to neutralize attacks. When the Huskies made their way through the defensive line with quick foot skills and breakaways and found their chances on goal, goalie Cooper Olson continuously shut them down, marking one of his strongest performances of the season. The Spartans ended their season with a 10-game winning streak, six consecutive shutouts, and outscored their section and state tournament opponents 24-0.

“Being able to go out and win that game was such an honor, and it was surreal to win the first championship since the ’90s with my team. I love all those boys, and we all played for each other that night,” Olson said.

The Spartans presented their first-place trophy to Head of School Luis Ottley at a morning assembly Nov. 7.

This story was updated to include information about the trophy hand-off.