Mall of America Field (Metrodome)
Girls 2A Final
Wayzata 2-1 Burnsville (4-3 in PK’s)
The last Minnesota State High School Soccer Tournament final of the night saw the unseeded Burnsville Blaze (17-5-0) take on the #4 seeded Wayzata Trojans (18-2-2).
The game stated brightly for Burnsville. Just five minutes in junior midfielder Tiana Khamvongsa laid down a penetrating pass to open up Alyssa Blahnik. The sophomore shot low and hard to the far post but Wayzata junior goalkeeper Mara Dougherty dove to her left to block the ball from sneaking just inside the right post.
Just two minutes later Wayzata’s Chelsey Ulrich played a diagonal pin-point pass to Kiana Nickel who was making a run. Her shot forced Blaze junior goalkeeper Meghann Rudolph into a drop save to her right.
12 minutes in it was Burnsvilles’ Khamvongsa who collected a pass and played a ball in by poking it past Dougherty. But junior Wayzata defender Katie Schulz slid in at the last second to clear the ball off the goal line.
Blahnik, who was looking increasingly dangerous, dribbled trough a maze of Trojan defenders going left to right and finally ripped a shot from 20 yards out that forced a save by Dougherty.
Burnsville’s Alyssa Blahnik gave Wayzata fits all night long. Photos by Jeremy Olson – www.digitalgopher.net
The next 10 minutes saw several good chances for the unseeded Burnsville Blaze. But at the end of the half the score was still tied 0-0.
Just 5 minutes into the second half, Burnsville’s Alyssa Blahnik, who had clearly been the most dangerous player for either team, tuned in one the highlight plays of the 2011 tournament. With her back to Wayzata’s goal and standing just atop her own defensive third, Blanhik received a pass from Sarah Poythress. She flipped the ball up and over her defender who was on her back. Turning she raced to the ball. With three Trojan defenders on her heels she kept the ball under control and dribbled 55 years before unleashing a low hard shot to the far post beating Dougherty and putting the Blaze up 1-0.
Even though Burnsville had the better run of play early in the second half it was Wayzata who lit up the scoreboard. The Trojans equalized in the 58th minute when Maddie Eklin played a cross into Nickel from deep in the Blaze attacking third. Nickel rose to meet the ball and nodded in from close range.
Each team continued to press and at the end of full time the score was still tied 1-1.
The game proceeded to golden goal overtime and seven minutes in Ulrich picked up a ball from 25 yards out and ripped a shot that blasted inches over the Burnsville crossbar.
With just one minute left to play in the 1st overtime it was Blahnik with another mazy run through traffic beating several defenders. She cut to her left just yards from the goal and unleashed her shot but it was blocked by Wayzata defender Margaret Rocca.
Four minutes into the 2nd overtime Maddie Eklin collected a ball in the penalty area, cut to the inside and let go a blast that went high over the Burnsville goal from just 10 yards out.
At the end of the two overtimes the score was still knotted at one a piece forcing the match to penalty kicks.
Bailly Drayton was up first for Burnsville and had her shot blocked by Wayzata keeper Dougherty.
Rachel Swenson made her shot for Wayzata going high right.
Maggie Solderholm buried her shot high right for the Blaze as did Kiana Nickel for Wayzata.
Burnsville’s Hannah Keirstead was the 3rd shooter for her team and she finished cleanly placing the ball high right.
Wayzata’s third shooter Erika Grinde shot dead center and had her shot blocked by Dougherty evening the tally to 2 a piece for each team.
The fourth kicker for each team made their shot and the fifth for both Burnsville and Wayzata missed.
Burnsville’s TIana Khamvongsa who had an excellent game for her team, was the 6th kicker and knocked her shot off the upper right post. Wayzata’s Chelsey Ulrich stepped to the spot with the state championship on the line and buried her shot low left which sent her team sprinting to the senior to celebrate their state championship.
“I wasn’t even expecting to shoot because I thought we’d make all of them,” said Ulrich. “My goalie told me before I kicked to just shoot it the way you do in practice all the time and your guaranteed to make it. I didn’t feel too much pressure until I heard the crowd cheering and chanting I knew for sure that it had to be done. Someone had to step up and take it and it had to be me.”
“That was a great turn with the ball,” said Burnsville coach John Soderholm speaking about Blahnik goal. “She’s a truly gifted young woman. She had a good game tonight and that was a great goal. She’s scored over half our goals this season but she’s also unselfish. Her future is limitless.”
Soderholm wasn’t the only one impressed with the Blahnik goal and her individual skill on the field. Wayzata head coach Tony Peszneker praised the Blaze forward. “I told her afterwards that was a world class goal. That was one of the best high school soccer individual efforts that you’ve ever seen because it was creative which is missing for the majority of the players. She has the unique ability whether you are doing a good job on her or not, every time she gets the ball it’s, oh-oh she’s going to have a chance for a goal. She’s not just a good athlete, she’s got good soccer skills. She’s a good soccer player.”
“I think everyone of the players on our team played at least half a game up until 10 to 12 games into the season,” continued Peszneker. “Then you start narrowing it down and end up with a starting lineup. I think a lot of times people ask how come your teams do well later in the season it’s because we don’t come out and have a starting lineup. All the kids get an opportunity to show themselves and see what they can do as they move along. It’s a process and there’s also some luck along the way. We thought we’d have to play Minnetonka in the section final but that was something we had no control over. Our job is to try to prepare for all the games and then our girls should be on top when it’s the right time.”