There was no lack of drama in the Section 8AA Girls Soccer Championship, thanks in large part to Moorhead High goalkeeper Emily Soukup, who somehow fought to keep her team alive even when it looked like, at point-blank range, the No. 1 St. Michael-Albertville Knights would be running to the State AA Soccer Tournament next week.
In the end, the Knights did prevail. But it took eight rounds of a shootout (essentially a fourth overtime) and one helpful crossbar to ensure what will go down in the books as a 1-0 win for Megan Johnson’s team, which has become a mainstay at state – winning the section championship 7 of the last 9 years.
“That’s as nervous as I’ve ever been at a championship game,” Johnson said. “That was incredible.”
Soukup faced 29 shots and made – according to stats – 12 saves, many of the spectacular variety. The Knights attack started in the opening minutes when Soukup was forced to come off her line to take away a potential shot for a save. She was riding a shutout streak of five games, dating back to the regular season. Her seven saves in the Section 8 semifinal helped the Spuds knock off Rogers High 1-0, a team Moorhead lost to 3-1 in the regular season.
Oh, and she’s a sophomore.
Not to be outdone, Meriel Orham was outstanding for the Knights, earning her own shutout. Orham had a tip in the shootout that hit the crossbar and came down and out of the net, keeping the Knights alive when the Spuds could have stolen the victory. She also had six other saves on the night.
STMA finished the regular season 11-4-1 with two losses to eventual Section Champions – Minnetonka and Maple Grove. One of their other losses was to perennial power East Ridge, a No. 1 seed who was upset in their Section Championship by Stillwater.
Joining the Ponies, Knights, Crimson and Skippers at state are Wayzata, Eagan, Lakeville North and Blaine.