History of Boys Soccer
The Minnesota state high boys' soccer tournament began in 1974. Thirteen years earlier, in 1961, six club teams from various private and public schools started competing in soccer at the interscholastic level. By 1966, more than three times that number of schools had programs and recognized soccer as a varsity sport. Conferences like Lake and MISSL had enough teams for league play.
From that handful of schools in the 1960's, soccer in Minnesota had enjoyed tremendous growth through the 1970's, '80's, and '90's. The growth of the metropolitan area and its suburbs in the '70's, the addition of soccer in Minneapolis, Saint Paul and larger out-state communities in the '80's, and the spread of the sport beyond the larger cities and school to many smaller communities in the '90's, has increased the number of schools participating to 242 in 2012, playing throughout the state from Crookston and Two Harbors in the north to Winona and Worthington in the south.
This increase in participation is not the only thing in Minnesota High School soccer that has changed through the years. Originally, the state tournament included four qualifiers, with the state semifinals, third-place and championship games played at Richfield High School. By 1980, there were eight teams that had qualified for the state tournament. Game sites were at the fields of the participants for a few years, but the soccer coaches and the Minnesota State High School League decided to designate four fields as sites for the tournament games, based on field size and conditions which promoted optimum soccer play by the participants. By the late '80's and early '90's, the semifinal and final games were moved into the Metrodome to assure perfect weather conditions. The growth of soccer participants warranted the establishment of two classes in 1997, Class AA for the larger schools and Class A for the smaller schools. The Class AA schools still qualified eight teams, while the Class A teams qualified four teams. In 2000, 70 boys' teams were competing in Class A and 76 boys' teams were competing in Class AA.
Beginning in 2001, Class A expanded with eight teams qualifying to the state tournament, the same as Class AA. Class A had 86 teams registered while Class AA had 68 teams registered to participate. The 2012 season had 126 Class A teams and 64 Class AA teams.
Other changes through the years have occurred in soccer: most high school stadiums are constructed to accommodate the greater field width in soccer; most communities have erected soccer field complexes and entertain multi-team tournaments during the season; state high school coaches have become licensed at the national levels; and communities have established fields and programs for players in elementary school to beyond high school.
All of this has led to not only better players, but more players who play the game well. Every year, more Minnesota soccer players, boys and girls are being recruited by colleges and universities, and several former Minnesota High School soccer players are playing at the professional level.