Holy Angels offense dries up in state semis, consolation final
Close games were nothing new for the Holy Angels girls soccer team which entered the Class A state tournament as the No. 2 seed with a 13-2-1 record.
Thirteen of those games were decided by two goals or less to illustrate the high seed going into state was a deserved reward for the program with 18 players back from the 2018 squad, which helped the team clinch a second perfect run through the Tri Metro Conference to win another title.
The Stars defense was stingy all season, allowing one-half goal per game thanks in part to a veteran group of defenders anchored by a two-time captain and five-year starter Abby Welsch.
Coach Dave Marshak said Welsch proved to be a difference-maker late in the season.
Offensively the Stars used a variety of players in the attack which made it tough to play for.
“On any given night one of six or seven players can be the difference,” he said, which was a key to the success as the team played against three top-10 ranked opponents just in conference play.
After starting as a left defender for the past three seasons, Emma O’Brien moved up to forward this season and the result was leading the team in goals and points. Another key contributor was Brooke Innes who transferred in from Minneapolis Washburn and played an instrumental role in the section semifinal and final.
The Stars advanced to U.S. Bank Stadium thanks to a four-goal first half against Cloquet in what would eventually be a 4-3 win in the state quarterfinal played at Chisago Lakes Area High School Oct. 24.
Moving indoors for the final two rounds, the Stars drew Orono in Monday’s state semifinal.
Holy Angels junior midfielder Mia Van der Heide broke up a scoreless opening half by scoring just two minutes into the second half, set up by Sydney Burns. All three of Van der Heide’s shots were on target with Orono’s keeper Clare Gagne turning away two of them.
Holy Angels keeper, junior Rachel Kawiecki made her only save in the first half.
The third-seeded Spartans used a pair of goals from freshman midfielder Nora Chouanard to power past the Stars. She scored the game-winner with 56 seconds left in the second overtime period from outside the penalty box. Orono would move on to finish runner-up in a third consecutive meeting with Mahtomedi for the Class A state title. The Zyphers scored twice over the final 12 minutes of the contest for a 3-2 win. The game-winner came with just over three minutes left in regulation as the Orono goalkeeper drew a red card foul trying to stop a breakaway. Mahtomedi converted the ensuing penalty kick.
Holy Angels returned to U.S. Bank Stadium Tuesday for the third-place final as Blake shutout the Stars 2-0. Holy Angels senior Chloe Johnson made three saves. Blake’s Amelia Reyes opened the scoring in the 21st minute with a solid individual effort with two cuts to create space to get a shot off. Cate Moe sent in a 40-yard free-kick into danger in the 42nd minute as Ali Fine came through with a header across the goal to make it 2-0. Van der Heide and Duffy-Shaw each had two of the nine shots taken.
Stars assistant coach Amanda Heimann was named Section 3A Assistant Coach of the Year for her work to helping the team win the section crown.