Eden Prairie's Natalio Blanche (18) scored what proved to be the game-winner on Eastview goalie Sam Ruelas late in the second half of Thursday's game at the Metrodome. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler.
Eagles players congratulated Joe Karam, right, after he scored late in the second half against Eastview. The others are, from left, Chris Kettell, Matt Murakami, Zach Ainsworth, and Abdul Omar. Star Tribune photo by Jeff Wheeler.
Eden Prairie boys' soccer coach Vince Thomas held onto his angst even as his players carried away the Class 2A championship trophy.
"I'm still scared," Thomas said in the Metrodome tunnel. "Eastview has so much firepower and at any moment they can score a goal."
The Lightning scored in the game's final minute, but the damage was already done to their undefeated season. Eden Prairie won 3-1 and captured its second state title, after winning it all in 2002.
Medo Youssef put Eden Prairie ahead 1-0 in the fourth minute and the psychological effect was two-fold. The Eagles gained confidence in knowing that Eastview needed at least two goals. Meanwhile, the Lightning (20-1-1) were reeling.
"The first goal killed our self-esteem and our confidence," standout Eastview forward Mathew Gweh said.
From there, it became a game of chances. Eden Prairie (16-3-3) missed several and Eastview struggled to generate many. Final shots were 17-7 in the Eagles' favor.
Natalio Blanche scored in the 79th minute, setting off a chain reaction of three goals in 57 seconds. The first two, by Blanche and Michael Vuolo, bolstered Eden Prairie's lead. The final goal came from Gweh, his 28th of the season. He scored at least one goal for the 11th time in the past 12 games and finished the season with 28 goals.
"[Gweh] is so dangerous," Thomas said. "We said, 'Don't dive. Slow him down and wait for the cavalry to arrive.' He's the driver for that bus. If we can hold him down, then we did a pretty good job."