St. Paul Humboldt, after playing shorthanded all season, defeated Dakota United 5-4 to win the physically impaired division adapted soccer state championship on Saturday at Stillwater High School.
Humboldt played the season with only five players, or two fewer than the usual side, but still won 11 of 12 regular-season games and three postseason games.
"We tried and tried and tried to get more players," Humboldt coach Mary Bohland said. "It was either we didn't play or we played with five, and we played with five.
"It was hard. We got tired. We had a lot of close games. These guys have been playing together for five years. They know each other and what they can do. We worked. We kept going and going and going."
While most teams use three defenders, Liban Farah was Humboldt's lone defender, keeping Dakota United out the high-scoring areas.
"Liban was a one-man defense. He was," Bohland said. "He did great. He really did. He did everything we asked and more."
Dakota United jumped out to an early two-goal lead. Samuel Gerten scored a little more than six minutes into the game and then again 48 seconds later.
Isai Fernandez countered for Humboldt, scoring three consecutive goals to give his team a 3-2 lead into halftime. He added a fourth goal just before the midway point of the second half.
"He has always played well for us. During the tournament, he shined,'' Bohland said.
She added that Humboldt's Moustaphe Mouhoumed "is usually the one who scores all the goals. I told Isai, 'You gotta do it for us. You gotta help us,' and he did. He told me he was going to get four goals."
Dakota United battled back, however, getting goals from Cooper Wilson and Giovanna Ayers to tie the score at 3-3 and 4-4. Then Mouhoumed put Humboldt ahead for good with a goal with 3:16 left. Humboldt played defense from there, kicking any ball in its end across the gym.
"That's what we've done all season long," Bohland said. "Once we can get ahead, then we'll go back. We had to because we would get so tired. It was how we survived."