Stillwater senior midfielder CJ Fredkove lost herself in a crowd of jubilant soccer teammates, jumping up and down to celebrate a 3-2 upset victory of top-ranked Edina in Thursday’s Class 3A state tournament semifinal.
Nearby, Hornets’ forward Maddie Dahlien approached a pair of dejected teammates sitting on the field and encouraged them to stand tall.
Throughout Edina’s dominant season, the word “no” kept coming up. As in, no losses through 19 games and no goals allowed in the past six games leading up to Thursday’s semifinal. Then as their 2-0 halftime lead against Stillwater first deteriorated and then disappeared, the Hornets had no answer.
“We had plenty of chances in the first half and I thought, if we just keep grinding and fighting the entire way and we don’t give up, things will happen our way,” said Mike Huber, coach of No. 4-seed Stillwater (15-3-2).
Junior Nell Smith scored first to give the Ponies life.
“Once we scored the first goal, I said, ‘We’re going to get a second,’ ” Huber said.
Fredkove added the equalizer less than 10 minutes later, by which point, the game began to turn. Dahlien, the Class 3A Ms. Soccer Award recipient, had scored twice and owned the first half. Stillwater responded with a group effort.
“We worked and we were there for one another,” Fredkove said. “We covered for one another. We just really wanted it.
“As soon as you get one goal, you have this momentum to you to just keep going,” Fredkove said. "You could kind of feel it the air.”
Edina felt it, too.
“That first goal, we were trying to say, ‘We’re fine,’ ” Edina coach Katie Aafedt said. “Then they get that second goal and you could just kind of feel the air come out of us a little bit.”
Aafedt said her team trailed twice in a game all season. Once came in an eventual 2-1 victory against Stillwater.
The Ponies kept pushing. Senior Marisa Bonilla scored the go-ahead goal in the 57th minute, just two minutes after her team drew even.
“With that third goal, they had all the momentum,” Dahlien said. “It rattled us a little bit.”
Stillwater senior goalkeeper Hadley Johnson credited senior centerbacks Grace Kleppe and Nora Wilcek for blocking Edina shots down the stretch and securing the victory.
At halftime, Huber ran some quick math. Knowing Edina has given up just six goals all season and never more than one in a game, Huber gave his team a “less than 20 percent” chance at a comeback.
“If you told us we were going to come back and score three,” Huber said. “I would have probably gone to the casino tonight.”
Instead, Huber will prepare for Saturday’s championship game.