The label “defending state champs” doesn’t have a statute of limitations. Teams defend their titles until they are snatched from them, however long that takes. Unforeseen circumstances, such as a pandemic, don’t change those facts.
Because of COVID-19, there was no state tournament last season. Which means if we flip a few pages in the state record book back to the 2019 Class 2A state tournament, Maple Grove is the defending champion.
The Crimson went 9-4-1 last season and positioned themselves to capture a second-straight state title by wining the Section 8AA championship. Of course, there’s no way to know for sure how Maple Grove would have fared in a state tournament. So we look to this season, and the Crimson, ranked No. 4 in Class 3A in the Sept. 12 state coaches’ poll, again appear to be on the expressway to state, having gone unbeaten in their first eight games (7-0-1). Seniors Quinn Omar and Lauren Zimmerman lead Maple Grove with six goals apiece.
No. 5-3A Stillwater (6-2-0) made state tournament appearances in 2018 and 2019. In 2020, the Ponies won the Section 4AA championship. The Ponies could very well have the arsenal to dethrone the Crimson — making Saturday’s game a potential state tournament preview — thanks to leading scorers of C.J. Fredkove and Marisa Bonilla, a Class 2A first-team all-state association pick last season by the coaches’ association.