WHITE BEAR LAKE — Despite finishing undefeated in the Suburban East Conference, the Stillwater boys’ soccer team had to settle for a runner-up finish in the league standings after a 2-0 victory over White Bear Lake in Thursday’s regular season finale.
The Ponies (7-0-2 SEC, 11-1-4) finished one point behind SEC champion Mounds View (8-1-0, 12-2-0) in the standings, despite beating the Mustangs 3-1 on Sept. 6. With three points awarded for a victory and one point for a tie, Mounds View was able to overtake the Ponies after winning its last seven conference games. Stillwater was hurt in the standings after settling for ties against Woodbury and Roseville in the last two weeks of the season.
Stillwater was held scoreless in the first half, but Roma Devine set up Patrick Roth on a breakaway that he converted for a 1-0 lead at 11:06 of the second h alf.
“The spirits were high, even though the ball did not go into the net the first half,” Ponies coach Phil Johnson said. “The defense remained tight and effective all game.”
Stillwater, which was playing without key regulars Sam Rasmussen and Nathan Purdie — before Alex Jurcoi left in the first half with a broken nose — but the Ponies persevered.
Jeff Canterbury notched his first goal of the season later in the second half on an assist by Roth for a 2-0 lead.
“There is a good team spirit of togetherness, teamwork and leadership with the team for this game,” Johnson said. “Tashi (Tsering) played at center mid and proved again his tenacity on defense and efficiency in opening the field and changing our point of attack on offense.
“Patrick, though battling a cold, was sharp and aggressive in the attack. Jared (Allen) had a good game on the flank and Kevin as a leader in the back and central part of the field proved again his effectiveness in his work rate and leadership.”
Ben Wilhelm finished with five saves in goal as Stillwater notched its sixth shutout of the season.
“Ben had a clinical game and managed the tough challenge of kicking into a strong wind,” Johnson said.
Stillwater will carry an 11-game unbeaten streak into the Section 4AA tournament. Seedings will be announced on Sunday and the Ponies will play in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
Stillwater 0 2 — 2
White Bear Lake 0 0 — 0
St — 11:06 — Patrick Roth (Roma Devine)
St — NA — Jeff Canterbury (Roth)
Shots on goal — St: 10; WBL: 5.
Corner kicks — St: 6; WBL: 1.
Fouls — St: 9; WBL: 7.
Goalie saves — St: Ben Wilhelm 5; WBL: Trenton Gahm 8.