By Jim Rueda
Free Press Sports Editor
Few can argue that the past few days have been pretty good for Mankato West soccer.
The West girls opened the Section 2A playoffs Monday with a convincing 9-0 win over Worthington. During the game, junior forward Maddy Burandt set the team’s single-season record for goals (18) and tied the team’s career record for points (62) set by Alyssa Brinkman last year.
A day later, the West boys opened the same playoffs with a 5-0 shutout over New Prague. Senior Bill Leitch scored a goal in the game to become the school’s all-time points leader with 61. Tommy Saffert set the previous record of 60 back in 2005.
Perhaps the most amazing thing about the records is that in this day of texts and Facebook and tweets neither player was sure of exactly where they stood before they set the marks.
Leitch knew he was close but didn’t know how many points he needed. Burandt knew at the start of the year the records were within reach, but once the season started, she didn’t even think about it.
“When you’re out there playing a game the records don’t even enter your mind,” Burandt said. “You’re too busy concentrating on what’s happening in the game to worry about things like that.”
Leitch, who also set the record for West career goals (42) against Owatonna earlier this month, could have been speaking for both of them when he said the records were secondary to the victories.
“Records are great but if you’re not getting them in the context of winning they don’t seem to mean as much,” he said. “As long as you win, the records are fine.”
The West girls will be trying to get another playoff win at 4 p.m. today when they host Waseca at Dakota Meadows Field. The West boys will try to do the same at 1 p.m. Saturday against Willmar at DMMS.
The future looks bright for both Leitch and Burandt, although Leitch does not intend to play sports in college. Instead he plans to put his excellent academic record to good use by applying to Stanford and, if that falls through, to one of the Ivy League schools.
Burandt is only a junior and has just started looking at colleges. After getting a chance to build on her records all of next season, she says she’ll seriously consider playing soccer at the NCAA Division II level. She won’t rule out any Division III schools if she believes the fit is right.
“I just want to stay somewhere in the Midwest,” she said. “That’s my only criteria right now.”
Jim Rueda is the Free Press sports editor. To contact him, call 344-6381 or email him at email@example.com.