WOODBURY — Shelby Litchy scored her team-high 13th goal on Saturday to help Stillwater overtake Woodbury 3-2 in a Section 4AA semifinal showdown at Woodbury High School.
The victory earns the third-seeded Ponies (12-4-2) a rematch against top-seeded White Bear Lake, which denied Stillwater the Suburban East Conference title with a 3-0 victory on Oct. 4. There is even more at stake this time around with the Ponies seeking their first trip to state in two years and second trip since 2001. White Bear Lake (15-1-2), which has not lost since falling to Mahtomedi 3-1 on Aug. 28 — a streatch of 15 games — last qualified for state in 2004.
The Royals (12-2-4) scored midway through the first half to take a 1-0 lead on Stillwater, which evened the score on a penalty kick by Allie Boucher with about seven minutes remaining in the first half. That sequence around Boucher’s goal was also significant because of a red card drawn by a Woodbury defender — not the goalkeeper — who knocked down a shot with her hands that was clearly headed for the corner of the net. Woodbury was forced to play short-handed the rest of the way.
Hannah Okerstrom and Ali Schilling connected for a highlight-reel goal 11 minutes into the second half to give the Ponies a 2-1 lead. Coming in on the right side, Okerstrom delivered a crossing pass in front of the goal that Schilling caught up to it on a full sprint and headed it past goalkeeper Liz Sampson.
“It was probably one of the best goals I’ve ever seen from a high school soccer player,” Ponies coach Mike Huber said.
Even playing with just 11 players — dropping a forward back in the field — the Royals tied the score at 2-all with less than five minutes remaining after drilling a free kick from about 30 yards out into the corner of the net.
“It was a good shot,” Huber said.
Stillwater was not deflated after giving up the tying goal and Litchy came through with the game-winner at 37:49 after taking a pass from Maddie Schaak and finding the net from about 16 yards out.
“We explained after the East Ridge game that it’s not over until that horn sounds at the end,” said Huber, referring to Stillwater’s shoot-out victory in the quarterfinals where the Ponies allowed a goal with just one second remaining in regulation. “It was not quite as disheartening as the game before and we knew that we could still do this. We created some chances and it was a perfect ball from Maddie and Shelby worked hard to put it away.”
The Ponies held a 10-7 advantage in shots on goal against an opponent that has advanced to state 12 of the last 14 years.
“Overall, we played hard and we went to the ball hard and won a lot of 50-50 challenges, which kind of set the tone for the game,” Huber said.
Stillwater played the sixth-ranked Royals to a scoreless tie earlier this season and carried some confidence out of that game.
“After that first game, we walked away feeling like we should have won,” Huber said. “We had a lot of chances and their goalie made a lot of saves. That gave us a lot of confidence and there was no reason we couldn’t do that again.”
Stillwater 1 2 — 3
Woodbury 1 1 — 2
Wo — 16:00 — NA
St — 32:45 — Allie Boucher (penalty kick)
St — 11:00 — Ali Schilling (Hannah Okerstrom)
Wo — 35:14 — NA
St — 37:49 — Shelby Litchy (Maddie Schaak)
Shots on goal — St: 10; Wo: 7.
Corner kicks — St: 5; Wo: 1.
Fouls — St: 6; Wo: 6.
Goalie saves — St: Megan Holthaus 5; Wo: Liz Sampson 7.