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Hornets defy history, secure state berth

By David La Vaque, Star Tribune, 10/19/21, 8:30PM CDT


Minnetonka had ended Edina’s seasons the last three years.

Edina midfielder Wesley MacMiller (4) kissed her team’s trophy after their 5-0 victory against Minnetonka in the Class 3A, Section 2 Championship at Prior Lake on Tuesday. (Aaron Lavinsky, Star Tribune)

Tension hung thick at the past two Edina girls’ soccer practices, said coach Katie Aafedt, whose sleep the past few nights was less than restful.

Players and coaches alike worried about an undefeated season being rendered null and void by playoff nemesis Minnetonka. The Hornets’ past three seasons ended with losses to the Skippers.

The current girls in green wrote a different ending with a 5-0 victory in Tuesday’s Class 3A, Section 2 championship game played at Prior Lake High School. Senior Maddie Dahlien tallied three goals as the Hornets (18-0) secured their first state tournament appearance since 2017.

“We knew Minnetonka was going to come in with a ton of energy, so we knew we had to keep our composure,” Dahlien said. “We didn’t want to bring too much energy to where we were frantic.”

Composed is how Aafedt described Dahlien’s goals, a welcomed contrast to the days and nights spent fretting. Dahlien scored twice in the first 15 minutes and got her team rolling.

“This is the type of game that’s nerve-wracking and sometimes she thinks she has to do it all on her own,” Aafedt said. “And she didn’t. Her finishes were all so calm, and in the run of play, she put the ball in the back of the net.”

Edina led 3-0 at halftime but neither Dahlien nor her teammates rested. One of five finalists for the Class 3A Ms. Soccer Award, Dahlien completed the hat trick and pushed her season total to 33 goals.

From there, the Hornets’ defense remained in lockdown. It did not allow a goal in three section playoff games. Junior goalkeeper Bayliss Flynn ran her clean sheet streak to 520 consecutive minutes. She has allowed just four goals this season — none since Sept. 20.

None of it mattered until time ran out on No. 2 seed Minnetonka (11-7-1) and its ownership of Section 2.

“I think everybody can finally take a deep breath,” Aafedt said. “Because we’re here.”