ST. PAUL — An early goal and stingy defense helped the Stillwater girls’ soccer team continue its strong play while blanking Cretin-Derham hall 1-0 in Thursday’s Suburban East Conference game.
The Ponies (5-1-1 SEC, 8-3-2), who have not allowed a goal in five games — outscoring their opponents 11-0 during that span, also moved within one point of league-leading White Bear Lake (5-0-2, 10-1-2), which tied Woodbury 1-all on Thursday. That means Stillwater, which is unbeaten in its past eight games, can win the conference title outright with victories over Roseville on Tuesday and White Bear Lake to close out the regular season on Thursday.
Stillwater struck quickly against the Raiders (3-3-1 SEC, 6-6-1) as Maddie Schaak scored just one minute into the game. The senior captain took advantage of a turnover and drilled a shot into the upper-left corner of the net from about 25 yards out for a 1-0 lead.
The Ponies held a 12-4 advantage in shots on goal, but Schaak — who also buzzed the net with a shot about 30 seconds into the game — notched the lone goal.
“We actually played really well,” Ponies coach Mike Huber said. “Overall, we played well and worked hard.”
Among Stillwater’s other strong scoring chances was a near miss by Ali Schilling about 10 minutes into the second half when Raiders goalkeeper Anna Fobbe tipped a shot wide on a breakaway.
“I think we fell off a little in the second half, but we had a lot of good chances and a lot of chances we should have finished,” Huber said. “If we finish our chances it’s a different game, but we knocked it around pretty well for the most part.
“Hannah Okerstrom had a couple of great opportunities and she laid a few balls across the box that were dangerous.”
Stillwater’s defense was also up to the task while posting its fifth straight shutout. Megan Holthaus finished with four saves in goal for the Ponies.
“As long as we don’t give up a goal, we’re not going to lose,” Huber said. “Our defenders, and across the board as a team, are keeping them off the board and that has been a huge asset for us.”
Thursday’s game marked a homecoming of sorts for Huber, who spent the previous 14 seasons as head coach of the Cretin-Derham Hall boys’ soccer team. Since last year, the school has completed work on on-side facilities that allows the school to host games for the first time after playing at several different locations over the past few years.
“It was a little strange being on the opposite sideline,” Huber said. “I had to catch myself not yelling for (Cretin-Derham Hall). It was fun. I got to see the old administration and a lot of my former players and they talked to me after the girls’ game. It’s kind of a closed chapter at this point, but it was good to be back and it brought back some good memories, too.”
Stillwater 1 0 — 1
Cretin-Derham Hall 0 0 — 0
St — 1:03 — Maddie Schaak (unassisted)
Shots on goal — St: 12; C-DH: 4.
Corner kicks — St: 3; C-DH: 1.
Fouls — St: 7; C-DH: 4.
Goalie saves — St: Megan Holthaus 4; C-DH: Anna Fobbe 11.