Longtime Edina boys' soccer co-head coach Bill Garner had the number "22" tattooed along his shin last summer, never fully knowing what it might mean.
He had done the math and knew regular season, section playoffs and state tournament games added up to 22 should a team reach the state championship game.
He just didn't know his lower leg would mirror Edina's 22-0 season after it defeated East Ridge 2-1 in the Class 2A title game Thursday at U.S. Bank Stadium.
"We always knew if we get to 22 and play the big game, it was going to be there for us," said fellow co-head coach Dave Jenson, referring to a state championship. "I just didn't think we'd ever be undefeated. You never do."
Garner thought enough on a summer's day to get the overall number etched in his skin, but who could have foreseen a season in which the Hornets trailed for only a minute once in those 22 games?
Their victory Thursday — powered by senior star forward Oscar Smythe's two goals, including the winner in the 63rd minute — was Edina's 184th state title in all sports and its first in boys' soccer since the Hornets won the third of three consecutive championships in 2001.
The Hornets had shut out six consecutive opponents through Tuesday's semifinal.
"To us, they were just another team," East Ridge senior defender Reese Dodd said in a tearful postgame news conference with his coach and a teammate. "We've broken winning streaks before. Earlier in the season, Woodbury [was] 9-0, beat them. In the semis, we broke St. Paul Central's 13-game winning streak. To us, Edina was just another team: Come out, put everything on the line, play our game. I think we could come out on top."
They came close, tying the score and playing evenfor almost 10 minutes in the second half after East Ridge's Cullen Featherstone made it 1-1.
Asked if his pulse quickened and his palms grew sweaty when the score was tied, Edina junior goalkeeper Hank Stechmann said, "A little bit. I just knew I had to do what I had to do and that's all I could do."
He kept East Ridge scoreless the rest of the way, thanks in part to a crucial save in the game's final seconds.
Smythe, meanwhile, scored the winner after he took Henry Rose's pass from midfield, took two touches and, from the edge of the 18-yard box, scored low and left past East Ridge goalkeeper Nick Wagner.
That winning goal presumably left Garner without a shred of regret.
"Twenty-two and oh, it's something I don't talk about," Jenson said. "Some people do."