Champlin Park senior goalie Malia Braiedy could hardly contain herself following the Rebels 5-4 shootout win on Oct. 22 over Stillwater in the AA state girls soccer quarterfinals.
Braiedy made the lone save in the shootout after the two teams tied 1-1 after 100 minutes at North High School in North St. Paul, and Champlin Park went 5-for-5 to send the girls to the state semifinals.
Braiedy made sure she was in the dogpile after the win, jumping and screaming and hugging teammates. Everyone ran to the crowd and put their arms up and celebrated, and all you could see were smiles as the girls walked off the field.
And now the girls get to step on the field at U.S. Bank Stadium with a chance to make more history for the school, a win away from the state final.
“It doesn’t feel real. I don’t know how to feel,” Braiedy said. “Oh my god, I am really excited. I am really excited to play in front of my school and have all of my friends there.”
The top-ranked and top-seeded Rebels (18-0-1 overall) fell behind 1-0 in the 67th minute after junior forward Sophia Steblay drilled a shot to the upper left corner from the left side of the field. The Ponies had just blocked two chances on kicks by junior forward Maille Mathis and had possession in the penalty box for several seconds before getting the goal.
But just when it seemed that Champlin Park was going to need to fight for its season, senior forward Izzy Quick put a strong pass to the foot of freshman forward Paige Kalal, who beat two defenders and set up a 1-on-1 with Stillwater sophomore goalie Hadley Johnson.
Kalal buried the chance past a challenging Johnson to the lower right corner of the net, making it 1-1 just seconds after the Ponies took the lead.
Mathis nearly scored the game-winning goal in the 77th minute of regulation and in the seventh minute of overtime, but both shots were saved by Johnson.
Sophomore defenseman Bella Vannavong had a huge blocked shot in the penalty box on a shot by Steblay in the 14th minute of overtime to help force the shootout.
In the shootout, Ponies junior midfielder Lexi Huber and Kalal traded goals, and then Braiedy made the play of the game.
Stillwater sophomore defenseman CJ Fredkove took her kick, and Braiedy read her foot perfectly – moving to her left with a few long sidesteps and catching the ball for the save.
That advantage was all Champlin Park needed as senior midfielder Grace Marshalek, junior defenseman Lauren Gauthier, senior forward Julia Sullivan and junior defenseman Lindsey Carlson all scored on their chances.
“I am really happy right now. I don’t know if you can tell,” Braiedy said while smiling and laughing. “We practice PKs every day, and to see everyone make their shot and everyone have a phenomenal shot in a game like that. We all said we would do it again if we can do it like that.”
Defense was key once again in the close state quarterfinal. The Ponies had several opportunities close to the net, and Braiedy needed to communicate with the players helping her in the penalty box.
That communication helped lead to several blocked shots that saved goals. In the first half, Lindsey Carlson blocked a shot with her face standing near the goal line on a corner kick, and it would have been a goal if she wasn’t in position.
Senior defenseman Maya Elizondo also blocked and cleared a shot that might have gotten through to Braiedy just a few seconds later.
Stillwater had a goal overturned after a foul was called in the penalty box that impeded Braiedy’s chance at a save, and the game was scoreless at halftime.
In the second half, several Rebels blocked shots – including Vannavong, Marshalek and Gauthier – in the final two minutes of regulation, and Braiedy added a save to keep it 1-1. Braiedy finished with six saves.
“It was constantly checking in with everybody and making sure we were all regrouped and all in the same mindset,” Braiedy said.
There was a scary moment with 25:55 to go in the second half when junior midfielder Megan Carlson was injured and clutched her leg or ankle after a collision. She remained down for several minutes before fire paramedics and an ambulance eventually helped her and took her to the hospital.
That caused a long delay, and Stillwater scored 12 minutes after play resumed. But even with that adversity and the concern for a teammate, Champlin Park once again persevered in the moment.
“We were all worried about Megan, so we allowed ourselves a couple of minutes to be worried,” Braidey said. “But then we remembered that we had to get back into the game and we had to play for her and for everyone on our team. And just because she went down, it didn’t mean we stopped. It meant we wanted to go 10 times harder.”