Soccer, played as early as 1934 at Summit School and introduced at St. Paul Academy in 1967, has been an immensely popular and successful sport in our history. The school produced many players who have gone on to compete at the collegiate and professional levels including Tony Sanneh '90 and Manny Lagos' 90. The boys' program has also made numerous Minnesota State Soccer Tournament appearances and won states titles in 1986, 1987, 1991, 1994, 2022, and 2023. The girls' program won their first Minnesota State Soccer Tournament championship in 2023.
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- J. Peter Sawkins '81
- Anthony Sanneh '90
- Lorle Ahern Cumming '39
- Keren Gudeman '94
- Manuel "Buzz" Lagos
J. Peter Sawkins '81 was a talented three-sport athlete at St. Paul Academy and Summit School and professional hockey player.
Peter had an impressive SPA soccer career and was named All-Conference and All-State his senior year. During his senior season, the team compiled an impressive 13-1-2 record, including a 3-2 win over Benilde St. Margaret’s to win the MISL Championship and a State runner-up finish after a quadruple overtime loss against South St. Paul. He was also a baseball standout, serving as captain his senior year, and recognized as an All-Metro player.
Hockey, however, was where he shone the brightest. He served as captain of the program and received All-State and All-Conference accolades multiple years. Peter was awarded the Frenzel Athletic Bowl for his athletics accomplishments.
Peter went on to attend Yale University where he excelled in soccer and hockey. In soccer, Peter was All-Ivy all four years and recognized as an NCAA All-American in 1984. On the ice, Peter was recognized as a two-time All-Ivy league award winner and an All-ECAC honoree his senior year. While at Yale, Peter was also a member of the 1982 United States Junior National Hockey Team that competed in the world junior tournament in Leningrad, Russia. For his athletic achievements at Yale, Peter was awarded the Mallory Award in 1985 recognizing Yale’s most outstanding senior male athlete.
Peter was drafted 144th overall by the Los Angeles Kings in the 1981 National Hockey League Draft. He played two years in the LA Kings farm system with the New Haven Nighthawks, Flint Spirits, and Toledo GoalDiggers. Although he chose to attend Yale and later sign with the Kings, notably Peter was also drafted in soccer by the Minnesota Kicks of the NASL in 1981 and the Minnesota Strikers of the MISL in 1985.
After over 20 years in various corporate roles, including 8 years as Director of Sports Trading Cards at Topps, Peter returned to St. Paul Academy and Summit School in 2011 to serve as the Athletics Director for 4 years. He then joined Hackley School in New York where he is currently the Director of Auxiliary Programs and Sports Marketing.
A renowned soccer player, Tony Sanneh ’90 was known as a gifted scorer and a crafty playmaker. He was an integral part of the nationally recognized St. Paul Academy and Summit School boys’ soccer program in the late 1980s. Tony, along with teammate Manny Lagos, lettered as 8th graders on a team that finished 3rd in state. He helped lead his team to State Championships in 1986 and 1987 and a runner-up finish in 1989. The ’88 team was named "One of the Best Teams in the United States'' that year and went on a 63-game winning streak over two and a half seasons. Tony was a two-time All-State selection and was awarded the Frenzel Athletics Bowl at commencement his senior year.
Tony also led the basketball team in scoring his senior year, was Conference Player of the Year, and represented the metro area in the State All-Star game winning the Dunk Contest and being named honorable mention All-State. On top of these already impressive accomplishments, Sanneh was also 3-time letter winner, 2-time captain, and 1st doubles player on the Tennis Team.
Tony attended the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he became one of the most decorated student-athletes in the history of the Milwaukee Men's Soccer program, setting school records for points (138), goals (53), and assists (32). He currently holds the record for most points and assists with the program. In addition to being named an All-Conference First Team honoree, he was recognized as an NSCAA All-Mideast performer as a freshman and sophomore and earned All-America honors. He also helped the Panthers to their highest national ranking to date at No. 9 and an automatic berth to the 1990 NCAA Tournament.
He went on to play professional soccer, eventually earning a spot on the United States Men’s National Soccer Team. Tony would make 333 professional soccer appearances, netting 97 goals between 1994 and 2009. He ended his national team career with forty-three international appearances and three goals, and played a significant role in the 2002 World Cup, where he started all five games.
In 2003, he founded The Sanneh Foundation to leverage what he saw as soccer’s unique potential to create positive social change for youth. Serving as President and CEO, Tony is a driving force in the Twin Cities soccer and nonprofit communities, empowering youth and improving the lives of those in the community.
In addition to his executive leadership role with The Sanneh Foundation, Tony serves as a Sports Envoy on behalf of the Sports United Division of the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs. In this capacity, he has worked in numerous countries including Cyprus, Bangladesh, Kenya, Cote D'Ivore, Bahrain, Haiti, Pakistan, Ethiopia, Malaysia, and Bolivia to further American cultural values of diversity and gender equity initiatives.
Lorle Ahern Cumming '39 played numerous sports while at Summit School. Cumming served as captain of the girls' soccer team during the 1934-35 season, captain of the field hockey team from 1938-39, and participated in fencing.
In soccer, she led the Blistering Bunnies to four victories against The Rockets. Both programs were comprised of students in the Junior High at Summit School.
Lorle was a member of the varsity field hockey team her sophomore through senior year. As a sophomore in the fall of 1936, Lorle contributed to the freshman/sophomore team defeating the junior/senior team 2-1 and contributed to the team's closely fought 1-0 win over St. Mary's in 1937 and the team's 5-1 win over St. Mary's in the fall of 1938.
Keren Gudeman '94 was a talented multi-sport athlete while at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, competing on the soccer, basketball, and track and field teams and serving as captain of all three teams. In her junior season, the girls’ soccer team went 14-1-4 and Keren led the team in scoring with 21 goals. She would be named All-Metro and All-State honorable mention following her junior season. In her senior season, she helped lead the team to an impressive 16-3 record, and was named to the All-State soccer team by the Pioneer Press. In track and field her senior season, she was a member of the 4 x 800 team that competed in the state track meet.
Keren played soccer and lacrosse at Harvard University, where she helped lead the soccer team to Ivy League titles in 1995, 1996 and 1997 and the NCAA soccer tournament three times. The team advanced to the NCAA soccer tournament quarterfinals in 1997, the Crimson’s best national tournament finish in fifteen seasons. Gudeman was a two time All-Ivy league second team honoree, NCAA Regional All-America third team selection, and is top 10 for season career assists in Harvard's soccer record books. In lacrosse, she made the varsity lacrosse team as a freshman after never having played, and served as team captain her senior year, also earning All-Ivy league first team and first team regional All-American honors in 1998. Following Harvard, Keren played in the Women’s Premier Soccer League for the San Francisco Nighthawks.
Keren eventually moved back to the Twin Cities and took a teaching and coaching position at SPA. She taught Middle School English and coached girls’ varsity soccer and varsity track and field. The girls' soccer team advanced to the state championship in 2004 and earned 2nd place in Class A. She was then hired as Carleton College’s Head Women’s Soccer Coach, coaching the Knights for six seasons. She compiled a 79-31-11 (.697) record as Carleton’s head coach and guided the Knights to the NCAA Tournament in 2008, 2009, and 2010. She was a two-time MIAC Coach of the Year (2006 and 2010) and was also named the 2008 NSCAA Central Region Coach of the Year after the Knights set a school record for victories in a season (18-6) and advanced to the elite eight of the NCAA Tournament.
Known to many as the “Father of Soccer” at St. Paul Academy and Summit School, Buzz Lagos has left his mark not only at SPA, but across the Minnesota soccer community. Throughout his many decades of coaching and teaching, Buzz has mentored and coached thousands of student-athletes, instilling values of teamwork and sportsmanship.
Buzz’s contributions to the SPA community can be traced back to the 1970’s, where he first served as the Head Coach of the boys’ soccer team beginning in 1973, leading the team to its first Minnesota State Soccer Tournament appearance. In the 1980’s, Buzz coached incredibly talented teams, reaching the state tournament nine seasons in a row. During that time, the team won four State Championships and two State runner-up titles. In addition to coaching, Buzz taught math in SPA’s Upper School and was known for his ability to make learning fun and for teaching students to find joy in solving complex problems. In the years before SPA’s girls’ soccer program was established, Buzz was instrumental in ensuring that girls who wanted to play soccer were allowed to play with the boys’ team.
At SPA, Buzz coached multiple Mr. Soccer recipients, an award given to the best soccer player in the state of Minnesota. His 1988 soccer team was the top-ranked High School team in the nation, accumulating a fifty-two game winning streak that would be snapped in the state semifinals.
In addition to coaching at SPA, Buzz founded the Minnesota Thunder, Minnesota’s longest running professional soccer team, and served as the Head Coach of the Thunder for over a decade before retiring from coaching at the professional level. He then went to Higher Ground Academy to help establish their soccer program and in 2016, returned to SPA help on the boys’ soccer staff before formally joining the team in 2017 as an Assistant Coach. Head Coach Max Lipset '03 says he has been an extremely positive influence on the student-athletes.
It is impossible to truly explain the impact that Buzz has had on St. Paul Academy and Summit School without providing a few testimonials from those who nominated him for this honor.
From Amos Magee '89: “But more than the wins, the outstanding player development, the titles and the national recognition, Buzz was a fantastic human and teacher that shared an optimistic, energetic, self-affirming and motivating outlook on life. He made great teams, great players and great people.”
From Ben Seymour '88: “Mr. Lagos’ coaching philosophy was rooted in hard work, in respect (for his players and others), in fairness, in composure and level headedness, in sportsmanship, and in a love of the game of soccer.
It was clear after having spent even a short period of time with him that this wasn’t just a coaching philosophy, it was a life philosophy; that the lessons he imparted were applicable beyond the field; and that he led by example. Years later, these lessons have helped to shape countless conscientious, kind, and decent people.”
From Daniel Zelle '81: “Among the many qualities Buzz cultivated were accountability, vulnerability, open-mindedness, fair play and connectedness. He helped players understand their role on a team and how to be reliable for executing that position as well as relying on and supporting teammates to do theirs. He made it clear that everyone makes mistakes - our teammates, the opponents, officials, coaches, spectators and us - we all do.”