OAK PARK HEIGHTS — Scoring twice in the first 20 minutes of the game spurred the Stillwater boys’ soccer team to a 3-0 victory over Wayzata in the finals of the Minnesota Cup on Saturday at Pony Stadium.
The Ponies (2-0) snapped a six-year drought when they won last year’s tournament and repeated as champions this year to claim the title for the fifth time in the 14-year history of the event.
The Ponies struck first about eight minutes into the championship game when Nathan Purdie scored on a pass into the box on the left side from Jared Allen for a 1-0 lead. Roman Devine followed with a quick-strike goal — a long-range tally Stillwater coach Phil Johnson described as “an awesome, skilled shot” — at 17:13 to build a two-goal margin.
Devine’s highlight-reel goal started with the Trojans rejecting the ball to the top of the box where he played it off his chest and drilled a shot — before it touched the ground — passed the keeper and just below the post.
“Wayzata came with a lot of purpose and zeal, but we took a little of the storm away when we scored two in the first 17 minutes,” Johnson said.
The Trojans did not go quietly, but goalkeeper Ben Wilhelm turned away six shots to earn the shutout.
“Ben was good in goal,” Johnson said. “He was challenged early in the second half and throughout. We shut them out, but we really had to scramble in the second half. We lost our shape a few times. Game 2 is always a dead-leg game in every season that I have coached.”
Wilhelm had some support, especially from sophomore defender Sam Keran.
“He was assigned to a very fast forward and he matched him and was able to mark him very well,” Johnson said. “He showed some maturity and kind of grew in that game.”
Stillwater added an insurance goal late in the second half when Patrick Roth delivered a pass that Alex Jurcoi chased down and slid into the net for a 3-0 lead.
“He just accelerated and poked it past the keeper,” Johnson said.
Spring Lake Park, which Stillwater defeated 3-0 in the semifinals on Thursday, bounced back to defeat St. Paul Central 2-1 in the third-place game on Saturday, scoring the game-winner to break a 1-all tie with about 12 minutes remaining.
n Stillwater also hosted JV and B-squad tournaments on Friday.
The Ponies won the JV event after opening with a 5-0 victory over Spring Lake Park and defeating Wayzata in a shootout after playing to a 2-all tie.
“It was very exciting,” Johnson said.
Stillwater also defeated Spring Lake Park 1-0 in the B-squad tournament before falling to Wayzata 4-1 in the finals to finish in second place.
Wayzata 0 0 — 0
Stillwater 2 1 — 3
St — 8:12 — Nathan Purdie (Jared Allen)
St — 17:13 — Roma Devine (unassisted)
St — 39:00 — Alex Jurcoi (Patrick Roth)
Shots on goal — Way: 6; St: 8.
Corner kicks — Way: 6; St: 2.
Fouls — Way: 5; St: 10.
Goalie saves — Way: Grant Larson 5; St: Ben Wilhelm 6.