WHITE BEAR LAKE — A blustery and generally miserable evening didn’t improve for the Stillwater girls’ soccer team after falling behind early in an eventual 3-0 Suburban East Conference loss to White Bear Lake.
The Ponies (6-2-1 SEC, 10-4-2) could have claimed the conference title with a victory, but White Bear Lake (7-0-2, 13-1-2) did not allow that to happen while ending Stillwater’s 10-game unbeaten streak.
“I don’t think we had our best game and, at the same time, White Bear Lake played very well,” Ponies coach Mike Huber said. “They are probably at least the best team I’ve seen this year. They worked hard and they were a good, solid team.”
The Ponies could see White Bear Lake down the road as both are expected to be among the top three seeds for the Section 4AA tournament. Section seedings are scheduled to be announced on Sunday, with Stillwater and Woodbury the likely second and third seeds behind the Bears, who ended Stillwater’s season in the section quarterfinals a year ago.
Nina Abrahamson gave White Bear Lake a 1-0 lead seven minutes into Thursday’s game, drilling a shot past goalkeeper Megan Holthaus.
“Giving up that early goal makes a difference,” Huber said. “The longer you hold it off the more confidence you’re going to have. Of course with the wind and the coldness, when you’re down it just makes it that much harder and it was nasty out there, but it was nasty for both teams.”
The Bears added to their lead less than two minutes into the second half as Grace Fitch scored on a crossing pass from Elizabeth Lastovich for a two-goal cushion. Then in the 20th minute, Anna Morrison knocked a direct free kick from 25 yards out off the far post and into the net for a 3-0 lead.
“We just needed to create more opportunities,” said Huber, whose team was outshot 10-2 in the game. “Obviously with two shots on goal you’re not going to win too many games. We’ll chalk it up to a bad game and we’ll move on.”
Stillwater’s best opportunity came in the first part of the second half when Shelby Litchy drilled a shot off the post.
It was a disappointing end result, but the Ponies are determined to not allow it to define their season, Huber suggested.
“Obviously we’re disappointed, but we’re the only two teams that had a shot at the conference championship tonight, so we have had a good year,” the coach said. “At this point we need to forget about tonight, we can learn but we have to put it behind us, and everybody is 0-0 and starts fresh tomorrow. In this section, anybody can beat anybody on any given day. That 10-game unbeaten streak is ended and now we need to come up with a six-game unbeaten streak.”
Stillwater 0 0 — 0
White Bear Lake 1 2 — 3
WBL — 6:44 — Nina Abrahamson (unassisted)
WBL — 1:28 — Grace Fitch (Elizabeth Lastovich)
WBL — 20:26 — Anna Morrison (direct free kick)
Shots on goal — St: 2; WBL: 10.
Corner kicks — St: 2; WBL: 3.
Fouls — St: 13; WBL: 10.
Goalie saves — St: Megan Holthaus 7; WBL: Tarah Hobbs 2.