Robbinsdale Cooper girls soccer needed not one but two goals with under 10 minutes to play to make program history on Sept. 5, and junior midfielder/forward Bella Grandbois delivered in a 2-1 win over Chanhassen.
The Hawks (4-1 overall) had never beaten Chanhassen since joining the Metro West Conference, with the closest game ending in a 0-0 tie, and hadn’t even ever scored a goal against the Storm.
They can now cross off both milestones from the list. Grandbois first battled for a loose ball in the 72nd minute and had a soft touch that just rolled past Chanhassen senior goalie Lexi Block and hit just inside the right post to tie the game at 1-1.
The large team celebration continued when Grandbois had a beautiful strike about 20 yards in front of the net that drilled in the inside-right corner of the net to make it 2-1 with under two minutes to play.
“We are a family, so cheering together – we all give hugs,” Grandbois said. “We love each other, so celebrating together – I felt ecstatic. In the years I have played Cooper soccer, we haven’t even come close to scoring a goal against Chanhassen. So being just to get (the first goal) and celebrating with the people that I call my sisters was just amazing.”
There were several other keys for Cooper besides the late offensive plays. One, junior goalie AJ Jiron was hit in the nose on a save attempt in the first half and had to be replaced by sophomore Jace Herman for the next 35 minutes.
Jiron returned to the net in the second half and made five key saves. That also allowed Herman to go back to her original position in the back of the midfield.
The Hawks also responded to some adversity for the first time this season not only needing to come back from a deficit late but also with injuries throughout the game.
“You are trying to piece it all together and patch it all together, so that was tricky,” coach Nick Wetherall said. “We had a couple of other girls get dinged up – (Chelsea Estudillo-Garrido) who started for us got hurt and could be in and out and another player (Marin Scherber) was sick.
“So that was awesome – the way they responded to it.”
Defensively, junior defender Amalia Villalobos and senior captain Anna Hunke also made several key plays to limit potential breakways, either by taking away an angle, clearing the ball or kicking it out to allow the team to fall back into position.
“I love our defense,” Grandbois said. “They always come out to play, always. Our defense is solid. We have had the same girls in our defense for four years or five years. They rock it out there, and it is the most important thing.”
Cooper is off to its best start since 2017 and has won four of its first five games for just the second time in the past decade. The Hawks’ 13 goals in five games is also the most during that same stretch, already surpassing last year’s total of eight.
Grandbois said the squad was a little nervous coming into the season after seeing numbers decline in the program, but she said after the first five games that she thinks the team is very confident.
“Saying that we are 4-1 is insane,” Grandbois said. “We have never had such a good season, and we are looking up, like we think we can do it this year.
“We want to make it to state, so we are going to try our hardest.”