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Orono girls upend defending champs

By Jim Paulsen, 09/02/14, 8:30PM CDT


Sophie Babo's second-half goal gave the Spartans a 1-0 victory over Benilde-St. Margaret's

Orono's Sophie Babo fights through a Benilde-St. Margaret's defender. Photo: Supplied by Mike Bash

Sophie Babo’s return to high school soccer paid its biggest dividend of the young season Tuesday when the senior midfielder drilled a shot into the upper right corner of the net with 15 minutes left in the game, giving Orono a 1-0 victory over Class 1A's top-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s.

Babo, a senior who is the leading scorer in Orono team history, and junior Carly Goehring returned to high school soccer this season after sitting out 2013 while training with the Minnesota Thunder Academy Elite program. With 11 juniors returning from 2013, the Spartans were expected to be among the state’s best in Class 1A. With Babo and Goehring back in the fold, what was expected became certain as they were had the two-time defending champion Knights on their heels for most of the game.

“This was our hardest game of the year, but I never felt like we weren’t in control,” Babo said.

Orono captain Catherine Fraser said this team has a quality that has been lacking on past teams.

“We have kind of a quiet confidence about us that hasn’t always been there before,” she said. “We’re pretty pumped right now. It’s been a long time since we’ve beaten Benilde.”

With the victory, Orono, which had moved up to No. 2 in the most recent Class 1A state rankings, improved to 4-0 while Benilde-St. Margaret’s had a 12-game winning streak dating back to last season snapped and fell to 3-1.