Orono won a defensive battle against Duluth Marshall 2-0 on Wednesday in a Class 1A girls' soccer quarterfinal game at Chisago Lakes High School.
With just over 13 minutes left in the first half, Anna Tesar turned and lofted a shot toward the Hilltoppers' goal. The shot sailed off the underside of the crossbar and over the hands of goalkeeper Natalie Welinski.
"I saw it and was like, 'May as well go for it.' Gotta take risks to get the reward," Tesar said. "I saw [Welinski] was coming out a lot. I saw I had an open shot, so I took it."
Moments later, Reiley Prueter got her head on a crossing pass and directed it past Welinski for a 2-0 lead for the second-seeded Spartans.
"I actually imagined that in my head," Prueter said. "I was like, 'I need to take a header' and [the ball] came right to my head. So, I just flicked it in and, thankfully, it went in."
The Hilltoppers (14-6-1) had their best scoring opportunity with just over 20 minutes left in the second half. Victoria Thorson received a penalty kick, but Spartans goalkeeper Clare Gagne deflected her shot off the crossbar and over the net.
The Spartans (17-2-1), led by junior defender Ally Swenson, limited the Hilltoppers to only three shots on goal, including one in the first half.
"Ally is always important for us," Spartans coach Erin Murray said. "She is super speedy. She is not our biggest defender, but we always keep her in the back, especially against fast players.
"We just know that she will go anywhere on the field and kind of save us."
Holy Angels 2, Mankato West 0: The Stars made the most of their scoring chances at Farmington High School and earned their 15th shutout victory this season, despite Mankato West's best efforts.
"That's been us all year," Holy Angels coach David Marshak said. "We play defense, we find a way to score a goal or two."
The Stars took a 1-0 lead in the 15th minute on a play off a corner kick. Junior defender Sophia Nimsger sent the ball in about even with the goal line and senior attacker Katrina Reynolds connected for the goal.
No. 5 seed Mankato West (17-2-1) had its chances but couldn't capitalize.
Holy Angels senior goalkeeper Greta Forseth, who missing a few minutes because of an injury in the second half, earned the shutout.
"I'm confident in net, and I like that pressure, so I find it enjoyable and fun," Forseth said. "When I make the first big save during the game, it just gives me a little bit more energy."
Stars sophomore attacker Sydney Burns gave the Stars (17-2-1) a cushion with a goal in the 56th minute for a 2-0 lead.
Benilde-St. Margaret's 3, Rochester Lourdes 0: Amanda Cassidy had been in freshman forward Elizabeth Dietzen's position once as a ninth-grader for the Red Knights playing in the state tournament.
"It's always intimidating going up against older players, especially seniors," said Cassidy, a member of the Red Knights' 2015 and 2016 state championship teams.
Dietzen looked at home as she and the senior midfielder teamed up for the first two goals in the Red Knights' victory at Prior Lake High School. Dietzen scored the first goal of the first half on an assist by Cassidy, who has committed to Division I Chicago Loyola. Dietzen then found Cassidy for the second goal.
"I knew she could make the shot," Dietzen said.
The third-seeded Red Knights (14-4-2) controlled possession, but Eagles goalkeeper Lauren Nickels settled in. The Eagles (15-2-2) became aggressive offensively in the second half but missed opportunities, including a chance for a close-range shot by Eagles senior attacker Brittney Gruszynski that got poked away.
"It was pretty frustrating. We always want to get one in," Gruszynski said.
Benilde-St. Margaret's answered with a free kick goal by senior midfielder Katie Tucker for a 3-0 lead with 19:40 left in the match.
Mahtomedi 6, Bemidji 0: The defending state champion Zephyrs (13-5-1) were the better team from the outset at St. Cloud State. Junior Audrey Sexson scored the first of her two goals in the fourth minute — she also scored in the second half — converting a rebound after senior Sonia Meyer's initial shot caromed off the crossbar.
Juniors Lauren Heinsch and Sydney Panek also scored in the first half as Mahtomedi built a 3-0 lead.
Anna Wagner, another junior, added a second-half goal after assisting on the final tally of the first half. Freshman Audrey Barry closed out the scoring in the final two minutes.