ANDOVER — The defending state champion Anoka-Hennepin Mustangs handed Stillwater its first loss in three weeks while pulling away for a 7-4 triumph in Thursday’s adapted soccer game at the Andover YMCA.
The Mustangs, who consist of players from Andover, Anoka, Blaine, Champlin Park and Coon Rapids high schools, outscored the Ponies 3-0 during a three-minute stretch in the second half to pull away after Stillwater tied the game at 4-all in its regular season finale.
The loss snapped a four-game winning streak for the Stillwater (5-4), which is chasing its first trip to the state tournament since 2006.
“The team played well to stay with those guys,” Ponies coach Rob Hollerbach said. “It has been a phenomenal season and kind of a downer to lose the last game, but hopefully we’ll pick up the pieces and carry our previous winning streak into the playoffs.”
Anoka-Hennepin’s three-goal outburst in the second half began with a disputed goal that began with an indirect kick that appeared to go into the net without getting touched by a player.
“That sort of changed the tide,” Hollerbach said. “We should have won this one.”
Devin Wildes and Austin Harjes each finished with two goals for the Ponies while Harjes also delivered two assists. Dan Pehrson assisted on both of Harjes’ goals.
Riley Cludy’s superb play in goal was also a critical factor for the Ponies playing so well on Thursday, Hollerbach suggested.
“Riley must have had a dozen shots on goal, up, down and at the corners, but the goalie stopped them,” the coach said. “Riley had a really good game out and an excellent game in the nets.”
The Ponies will play a section game next week, although their opponent and site have yet to be determined. Stillwater is scheduled to host the state tournament on Nov. 16-17.