Eden Prairie 3-0 Wayzata
The AA Girls’ State Tournament Championship went to yet another team that finished the year undefeated. The Eden Prairie Eagles (19-0-1) took down last year’s AA state champions the Wayzata Trojans (16-2-3) 3-0 with all three of the goals coming from senior attacker and captain, Taylor Uhl. “Taylor epitomizes leadership in every way possibly imaginable,” praised Eden Prairie Coach Anthony Bidwell.
It took the Girls’ Class AA Ms. Soccer 42 seconds to open up her scoring account. Uhl took the ball from the middle of the Eagles attacking half and continued to the top of the 18-yard box where she took a touch to the right to get away from a defender. Uhl then buried the shot into the back of the net leaving Wayzata senior keeper Megan Pyrz with little chance to stop it.
Eden Prairie continued to dominate the first half, tallying six shots and five corner kicks to Wayzata’s two shots and two corner kicks. While most of the attack revolved around Uhl, junior midfielder Lesley Chilton was an attacking threat as well. Lesley nearly got a goal herself from a long range shot towards the far post that the Wayzata goalkeeper had to tip over the bar to avoid letting in a second goal.
Wayzata’s Kylie Schwarz goes in for the tackle – All Photos by Jeremy Olson – www.digitalgopher.net
Despite the strong play of Wayzata’s back line, which constantly applied enough pressure to keep shots from reaching net and the Trojan goalkeeper cleaning up loose balls, the duo of Uhl and Chilton continued to cause problems. Late in the second half the two players were involved in a give-and-go where Chilton received the ball outside the penalty box and then fed Uhl as she neared the 6-yard box. Uhl sent in a floating shot towards the back post, but the ball didn’t come down enough and bounced off the crossbar.
Chilton also nearly set up junior midfielder Rebecca Sparkman a couple times as the first half came to an end, but Sparkman could not find the back of the net. When asked about the cohesion of his offensive players, specifically Taylor Uhl, Coach Bidwell replied, “I think a lot of it stems from them playing together since grade school. [Taylor] is truly a great leader. A leader makes the players around her better. It’s a beautiful thing when you see players step up their level of play to that extent because it’s very rare.
The second half started off much like the first half finished. Six minutes in, Chilton played a square pass to Uhl, but with a defender on her hip, Uhl sent her shot up and over the net. A few minutes later Uhl got a second chance at goal and made it count.
In the 50th minute Sparkman won the ball and sent a pass forward to Uhl outside the penalty box. Uhl took a few touches towards the top of the box before sending in a shot that beat the Wayzata keeper and gave Eden Prairie a 2-0 lead.
The game was sealed in the 65th minute when Taylor Uhl finished off her hat trick. Uhl made a run with the ball starting 35 yards out towards Wayzata’s goal. As she made her way into the penalty box, she beat every defender that stepped up to stop her until she sent a low shot that beat the keeper and ended inside of the far post.
While Uhl, Sparkman and Chilton were running the Eagles’ offense, Eden Prairie’s experienced defensive back four, lead by seniors Katie Thykien and Riley Allen, were also doing their part to prevent Wayzata from getting back into the game. “Senior leadership is something you use as a building block to start the season with something that solidifies as the season goes on,” Coach Bidwell said of his senior defenders. “Seniors are huge in big games, especially state caliber games because they have experienced it, they are hungry, they know what needs to be done.”
There are eleven seniors listed on the Eagles roster. After the final had ended, Coach Bidwell had mixed feelings about the next year of competition. “It’s going to be sad to see the seniors go, but I’m excited to see what we can do with the players coming up. We have some young players chomping at the bit and they’re ready to fill those shoes.”
Girls class AA Champions Eden Prairie