What are the odds of rallying due to a 2-0 time pressure in the semi-finals of a state tournament?
“I would probably say less than 20 percent,” said stillwater girls football coach Mike Huber.
Most will say much below that. In particular, when you consider that Edina has not lost an entire season, never conceded more than one goal in any game, spent six lockouts in a row and owned the best player in the state, and maybe the country, star forward Maddy Dalyen, who scored both goals in the first halftime for the Hornets.
The deck was stacked against the Pony.
Huber’s message to his team in between breaks was simple: “Just don’t give up.”
“If you told us we would come back and score three, I would probably go to the casino tonight,” Huber said. “Obviously it was unlikely, but in the first half we had a lot of opportunities. We could have scored two goals in the first half, so we knew that two goals would not be unattainable. ”
Not really. Stillwater with a fourth seeded (15-3-2) flipped the scenario in the second half, became the aggressor, controlled the game and pulled himself together for a stunning 3-2 defeat to top-seeded Hornets (19-1) at US Bank Stadium on Thursday morning in the semifinals class 3A. The Ponies will play for the state title at 8am Saturday morning in downtown Minneapolis.
“They came back with a vengeance,” said Edina coach Katie Aafedt. “We haven’t been in this position all year, so we take off our hats in front of them. We didn’t necessarily know what to do about it, and they attacked us a lot, so they were wildly supportive. ”
As Huber noted, Stillwater had opportunities in the first half, but did not hit a single shot. While this may be cause for optimism, the odds against Edina should usually not be missed and won. The ponies looked like they were about to score a standard position in the first half, but the ball, which rushed into the net, hit one of their players.
It seemed that it was not Stillwater’s day. But senior midfielder CJ Fredkov never understood this.
“I guess I never thought we couldn’t go back,” she said. “Of course, getting into the half two goals back is not ideal, so we had to clear our minds, play like it was 0-0 and fight for everything we have. We came out, we played as a team, and we really just grind. ”
Nell Smith scored first, cutting Stillwater’s deficit in half with 34 minutes to go. As soon as this goal was scored, Huber was confident that the score would be equal. He came nine minutes after a corner kick to the head of Fredkove.
Just two minutes after that, Marisa Bonilla buried the winner of the game after rebounding after Fredkov’s attempt to crown a remarkable rally.
“I think it just shows our resilience and that we just wanted to do everything we could to see if we could beat them,” said Stillwater goalkeeper Hadley Johnson. “We kind of got into this business, almost without losing anything, because we were outsiders in that situation. We just knew if we could score at least one goal, and we’ll see what happens. ”
Aafedt said the Ponies put Edina on his heels. The Hornets felt fine after Stillwater’s first goal, but the Ponies ‘second took air out of the Hornets and the Ponies’ pressure did not ease until they took the lead. The 3-2 deficit was Edina’s first loss since early September.
“There were a lot of newcomers at the wrong address today,” Aafedt said.
Stillwater pushed mercilessly away from conferences with all the top teams in the state, including Edina, who beat the Pony 2-1 on September 8.
The idea was to get Pony ready for this moment. They knew they could compete at the highest level with the best team in the state, and they did it.
“Kudos to them,” Dalian said. “This is a great team, and if we want to lose, it’s them.”