ST. CLOUD – Two losses and a tie this season taught Eagan's defending state champion girls' soccer team nothing would come easy.
One hundred minutes of scoreless play in Thursday's championship game meant the same. Penalty kicks, a wrenching yet thrilling sequence, would decide the Wildcats' title game rematch with Eden Prairie.
Eagan outscored Eden Prairie 3-2 in the shootout — and Wildcats' freshman goalkeeper Megan Plaschko made two saves in the five rounds — for a 1-0 victory.
"I said right before the shootout, 'If you do your job and score, I'll do my job and stop the ball,' " said Plaschko, who stopped Eden Prairie's final attempt to set off the celebration.
In 2014 Eagan went undefeated and won its first title. The road to repeat took some unexpected but important turns. A 0-0 tie against Prior Lake saw a rare shutout. Two losses in three games ended a 32-game unbeaten streak and raised questions.
"Our losses and tie humbled us a little bit," senior forward Jade King said. "I know a lot of people thought we got in this slump in the middle of the season. A lot of people didn't think we would make it back. It just feels really good to prove everybody wrong."
Eagan played the aggressor all game, outshooting Eden Prairie 23-4. The Eagles played a similar defensive style before upsetting No. 1 seed Lakeville North in a semifinal shootout.
"We don't think it's a lottery," Eden Prairie coach Noel Quinn said of a shootout. "We felt pretty confident. Just me being superstitious, I really didn't want to go two games in a row to a shootout because I think you're chances are lower."
King, who had 14 shots in the game, started Eagan's first penalty kick shootout of the season with a goal. Eden Prairie answered. After two rounds, the teams were tied 2-2.
The Wildcats flinched first as Eden Prairie goalkeeper Lindsay Eliasen stopped the third Eagan attempt.
"We saved one early and thought, 'Maybe it's our day,' " Quinn said. "Then it went the other way."
The Eagles' ensuing attempt missed the net. Senior Sydney Sherek went next for Eagan and converted the eventual game-winner. Two Plashcko saves later, Eagan prevailed.