WHITE BEAR LAKE — After knocking off Stillwater in the regular season finale to win the Suburban East Conference championship, White Bear Lake continued that run of success while topping the Ponies 1-0 on Tuesday to capture the Section 4AA championship and earn its first trip to the state tournament since 2004.
The Ponies (12-5-2), who made their eighth and most recent state appearance in 2010, also had their season ended by White Bear Lake in the section quarterfinals a year ago.
“I thought our girls played hard,” Ponies coach Mike Huber said. “I do think, overall, (White Bear Lake) was just a better team tonight, but I thought our girls gave a great effort and fought hard to the end.”
The Bears have now outscored Stillwater 8-0 in their past three meetings.
White Bear Lake broke a scoreless tie with about six minutes remaining in regulation as Madison Scheer scored the deciding goal in a game that featured few scoring chances for both teams.
“Neither team had a lot of great opportunities,” Huber said. “We kind of told the girls it would take one decent opportunity to put it away and they were able to capitalize. There was not a lot of offense generated either way and a lot of play was in the midfield.”
Stillwater was missing three starters on Tuesday, including Leah Nitardy (torn MCL), Abbie Ellingson (illness) and Lexi Andres (mission trip).
“We told the girls with three key players out that it was time for other girls to step up and the girls that came in worked hard and we couldn’t have asked for anything better out of them,” Huber said. “They filled in great. It would have helped to have those starters in, but the girls that came in did a fantastic job.”
Megan Holthaus finished with six saves in goal for the Ponies, who were not necessarily expected to contend for conference or section titles this season.
“Overall, I think the girls had a great season,” Huber said. “If you had asked me if we’d contend for the conference and get to the section finals I thought that would have been a stretch, but they ended up being ranked like 12th in the state and had that 10-game unbeaten streak so to finish 12-5-2 is a good season. It will give us a lot to build on in the future and we’ll move forward from here.
“We’ll be back next year and we have a good core of returning players and I think we’ll be able to give it a good run again next year.”
Stillwater 0 0 — 0
White Bear Lake 0 1 — 1
WBL — 33:52 — Madison Scheer
Shots on goal — St: 6; WBL: 7.
Corner kicks — St: 2; WBL: 6.
Fouls — St: 12; WBL: 7.
Goalie saves — St: Megan Holthaus 6; WBL: Tarah Hobbs 6.