Perhaps it was the 8 a.m. game time. Or the cavernous feel of the Metrodome in the morning. Whatever the reason, top-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret's needed a wake-up call Monday before pulling out a 3-2 overtime victory over South St. Paul to advance to the Class 1A girls' soccer tournament final.
Dana Buckhorn drilled a 25-yard free kick past the outstretched hand of goalkeeper Alicia Sethre in the seventh minute of OT, ending a game that had grown increasingly frustrating for the Red Knights (19-0-1).
"That was the perfect spot for a free kick, so I thought we might win it right there," Buckhorn said.
Until then, South St. Paul played the role of gum on the Red Knights' collective shoe. Despite being outshot 34-7, the Packers hung tough. They even held a brief 1-0 lead on Tori Poole's goal in the 13th minute of the first half.
"I don't think we've trailed all year," Benilde coach Scott Helling-Christy said.
Benilde dominated the rest of the game, with Aleksa Tataryn and Maria Michels notching goals. South Paul tied the score 2-2 in the second half on Poole's second goal, but the Packers never threatened thereafter.
"That first goal was kind of a slap in the face for us," said Buckhorn, a senior forward. "But we have so many good players, I always felt like we were in control."