It’s the same thing in so many high school sports these days. Officials are in such short supply that the situation is approaching the critical stage, according to local coaches. They say an increase in pay might help, but there’s more to it than that.

“I think we need more young (officials) coming through,” said Saint Paul Academy soccer coach Max Lipset. “I see the same refs every year. I’m extremely grateful to a lot of the older ones who’ve stuck it out, but we’re having a hard time getting new referees.”

According to Cretin-Derham Hall soccer coach Carter Albrecht, a referee is paid $70 to work a freshman game at his school. “But we’re still struggling to find them,” he said. “There’s a huge shortage, and it also affects the quality of the referees we do get.”

Highland soccer
Highland Park’s Ayub Sulieman controls the ball in front of Como’s Abdisa Mohamed in a 1-1 tie on September 7. Photo by Brad Stauffer

Central soccer coach David Albornoz said he “absolutely” sees a scenario in which games might have to be shuffled and rescheduled because of the ref shortage. “We’re getting people who should be retiring now and they do their best, but we need more young people,” he said.

Still, the season presses on. Here’s how the local boys’ soccer teams look this fall:


League: Saint Paul City
Previous record: 13-3-1
Coach: David Albornoz

Key players: senior goalie Drew Moseman, freshman midfielder Eli Moseman, senior defender Charles Wriedt, senior midfielder Chakong Vang.

Outlook: The Minutemen have five seniors starting but still have more young players than coach Albornoz usually has. They have a solid nucleus and the team has recently dominated the league. Central has speed, skill and solid defense, though the team is a little offensively challenged. “One month from now, we’ll see where we fall,” Albornoz said.

Cretin-Derham Hall

League: Suburban East
Previous record: 3-13-1
Coach: Carter Albrecht

Key players: junior midfielders Liam Hafenbrack and Luke Madden, senior forward Diego Giles Quiroz.

Outlook: Coach Albrecht views his Raiders as a coming force in the league. “We had a young team last year,” he said, “but this year a lot of those players have really grown into themselves.”

Highland Park

League: Saint Paul City
Previous record: 5-8-3
Coach: Aron Romo

Key players: senior midfielder Eh Mu, sophomore wing/midfielder Tenzing Walker, junior midfielder Caiden Romo (the coach’s son).

Outlook: The Scots have shown they can control the ball well, but they have to make the best of their offensive chances when they get them. First-year coach Romo said he has higher aspirations than a .500 season. “I think we can do pretty well,” he said. “I expect all of our conference games to be tough.”

Minnehaha Academy

League: Independent Metro Athletic
Previous record: 8-7-1
Coach: Sean Jensen

Key players: senior midfielder Sam Anderson, senior forward Jonathan Karpenko, junior defender Evan Paton.

Outlook: The Redhawks lost four seniors to graduation, but Jensen said “we have a talented group.” The team will build off its midfielders. “They’re very quick and can play offense and defense,” he said. Minnehaha also has skills at the striker position.

Nova Academy

League: Skyline
Previous record: 5-11
Coach: Cole Conlin

Key players: senior forward Sebastian Hoiland, junior midfielder Joe West, junior goalie Marcos Odegard, senior defensive midfielder Tommie Larkins.

Outlook: Coach Conlin said the goal is to get to .500 this fall. “Last year, we just wanted to keep things close,” he said. “Now we want to win more.” The Knights have a good junior class and some strong seniors.

Saint Paul Academy

League: Independent Metro Athletic
Previous record: 9-3-4
Coach: Max Lipset

Key players: senior forward/midfielder Cooper Danielson, senior defender Nate Cohen, junior goalie Cooper Olsen, sophomore midfielder Ezra Straub.

Outlook: The Spartans have seven of their  starters back this season, and coach Lipset thinks his team will be  successful once again. “We have quality players and are strong in every position,” he said. “Our goal is to win the conference again.”

Saint Thomas Academy

League: Metro East
Previous record: 9-6
Coach: Brian Kallman

Key players: senior midfielder Austin Kalmes, senior defenders Nick Henseler and Tate Himkemyer, sophomore forward Kian Farooq, sophomore midfielder Solomon Straub

Outlook: Coach Kallman believes his team will have a strong second half of the season as it preps for the playoffs. STA has a stout defense and some good offensive output in the early season. He said a bid for state is  well within reach. “We always talk about getting a little bit better every time we step onto the field,” Kallman said.

Two Rivers

League: Metro East
Previous record: 11-3-1
Coach: Terry Doud

Key players: senior goalie Miles Dunn, senior midfielder Anwar Hamed, junior midfielder Emilio Meza, senior defender Diego Godinez, sophomore defenders Jack Filhart and Quinn Fraley.

Outlook: The Warriors have good speed and possess the ball well, but defense could be a soft spot. Coach Doud said the outlook is bright for this fall. “We hope to challenge for the conference title,” he said. “We’re going to keep getting better as a team.”

— Bill Wagner


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