MAHTOMEDI — A fast start did not hold up as Mahtomedi outscored Stillwater 4-1 in the second half en route to a 5-2 victory in Thursday’s Section 4AA semifinal game.
The second-seeded Zephyrs (18-1-1) advance to face top-seeded Woodbury, a 1-0 semifinal winner over White Bear Lake, in the finals on Tuesday. The Ponies wrapped up their season with an 8-8-2 record.
“I think the girls fought and played hard for the full 80 minutes,” Ponies coach Mike Huber said. “It’s just a matter of we were up against a better team today, but they gave a good effort.”
The Ponies have been plagued by countless injuries this season, but were unbeaten in their four games before the season-ending loss to the Zephyrs, who Stillwater played to a 1-all tie less than a week ago.
“Out of all the years I have coached, this team probably had the most adversity due to injuries and our situation,” Huber said. “The good thing is that they battled hard and were basically in every game. Even the 5-2 loss tonight didn’t seem like a 5-2 game. They battled the entire year, which is great, and they are a great group of kids. We’re going to miss the seniors, but hopefully the juniors, sophomores and freshmen wil get better in the offseason and come back next year.”
One of those players expected to return, junior Jaime Purdie gave the Ponies a 1-0 lead five minutes into the game on an assist by Natalie Weidner — one of the many players who have been sidelined at various times this season.
The Zephyrs, however, evened the score on a goal by Rachael Shumway midway through the first half and stretched the lead to 3-1 with goals by Megan Koenig and Chelsey Henry in the first 15 minutes of the second half.
Leah Nitardy scored on a penalty kick in the 61st minute to give the Ponies new life at 3-2, but Michelle Austin scored seven minutes later to regain a two-goal margin for the Zephyrs. Mahtomedi added a final tally with just two minutes remaining for a 5-2 advantage.
“Mahtomedi is a very good team and we just kind of ran out of gas as the game went on,” Huber said. “We needed to play kind of an error-free game and we made a few mistakes defensively and they capitalized on those.”
Stillwater 1 1 — 2
Mahtomedi 1 4 — 5
St — 5:00 — Jaime Purdie (Natalie Weidner)
Mah — 21:00 — Rachael Shumway (NA)
Mah — 48:00 — Megan Koenig (penalty kick)
Mah — 55:00 — Chelsey Henry (NA)
St — 61:00 — Leah Nitardy (penalty kick)
Mah — 68:00 — Michelle Austin (NA)
Mah — 78:00 — NA
Shots on goal — St: 7; Mah: 13.
Corner kicks — St: 5; Mah: 5.
Fouls — St: 8; Mah: 9.
Goalie saves — St: Christina Bartingale 5 and Megan Holthaus 3; Mah: NA 5.
Woodbury 5, North St. Paul 0
White Bear Lake 1, East Ridge 0
Stillwater 2, Cretin-Derham Hall 1
Mahtomedi 8, Tartan 1
Mahtomedi 5, Stillwater 2
Woodbury 1, White Bear Lake 0
Tuesday’s section finals
#2 Mahtomedi at #1 Woodbury, 7 p.m.