Minnetonka's journey to soccer redemption began with an overtime loss in last season's section finals and ended Friday with a 1-0 upset victory over Wayzata in the Class 2A state championship game.
"Every Minute Counts," the girls' motto, was tested by accumulating postseason minutes. Three consecutive overtime victories required every bit of their resolve. So when it came time to play Wayzata for a third time this season, the two previous shutouts losses no longer mattered to them.
No. 5 seed Minnetonka (16-4-1) proved it belonged, claiming its third state title in program history thanks to Grace Weisman and Riley Brackin, who co-authored the game's lone goal. Senior goalkeeper Paige Kahlmeyer, sidelined the better part of two seasons by a knee injury, secured victory with nine second-half saves.
"They were the ones who really took care of it," Minnetonka coach Jeff Hopkins said of his senior captain trio. "You hear a lot in chants, especially in the Lake Conference, 'What's a Skipper?' A Skipper is a leader. These three did what they needed to do today to get the win for our program."
Tease them no more because three of the Skippers' final four victories came against Lake Conference foes Edina, Eden Prairie and No. 2 Wayzata (17-4). Each brought a different level of satisfaction. Edina ended their 2017 season, and Eden Prairie and Wayzata both blanked them twice this season.
"Give Minnetonka a ton of credit for the way the they played, the effort they put in and the grit, desire and determination they showed in their entire playoff run," Wayzata coach Tony Peszneker said.
A team that valued every minute asserted control of the game Friday in mere seconds during the first half.
Weisman intercepted a short pass attempt near the 50-yard line, dribbled into the center of the field and split two Wayzata defenders with a left-footed pass toward Brackin.
"I saw Riley making this darting run and I thought, 'Oh, she is going to score if I pass it to her,' " said Weisman, the team's chief playmaker with 17 assists this season. "At first I thought it was too far in front of her."
Brackin wasn't fazed.
"I knew I had to get there. I knew I had to get that ball in the goal," Brackin said.
Already in good position between the ball and the Trojans defender, Brackin ran onto the ball, then fired from about 10 yards out to beat goalie Madison Lo far left.
Kahlmeyer made the lead stand even as gold-clad Wayzata players kept blasting shots.
"It felt like they were constantly kicking corners with how many people were in the box and on top of me," she said. "It was crazy."