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Woodbury girls soccer: Royals hand Mahtomedi first loss, now 4-4 on season

Woodbury junior defender Lauren Stuber looks to make a play on the ball in the Royals 1-0 win over Mahtomedi on Saturday. (Staff photo by Matthew Davis)

The Woodbury Royals girls soccer team found its stride just in time – to end Mahtomedi’s eight-game winning streak with a 1-0 win.

“Towards the end of the game, it got a little scary, but it was good,” Royals goalkeeper Meghan Konop said.

Konop had to stop four shots down the stretch as the Zephyrs (8-1), ranked No. 6 in Class AA entering the game, attacked a scrambling Royals defense in search for a tie in the non-conference game on Saturday, Sept. 14. A gelling Royals team found a way to hold on to their 1-0 lead at home, which ended the Zephyrs’ 8-0 start to the season.

“Our goalie came up big, picked up a couple nice saves and kept us in there,” Royals coach Pat Malicki said. “It’s always good to cover up for each other.”

Maddie Gaffney put the Royals up 1-0 on a free kick after being fouled during the first half. It gave the Royals the lift they needed.

“The goalie bobbled it, and it found its way in the back of the net,” Gaffney said.

The Royals won their second straight game over Suburban East Conference foe White Bear Lake on Thursday, Sept. 12, with a 2-0 win. Both goals came in the first half as Rachel Hewitt and Megan Sturges each scored. Konop knotted three saves.

“We’re forming a team,” Konop said. “It’s not a long season, and you’ve got to gel pretty quick.”

With the two wins, the Royals (4-4, 2-1 SEC) rebounded from their 1-0 loss at Park on Tuesday, Sept. 10 – the only time the Royals have been shut out this season. They had not been shut out since the state tournament in 2011.

Konop had seven saves in the game, but the Wolfpack’s Temi Ogunrinde what became the game winner. Gaffney had four shots on goal in the loss to the Wolfpack, which is 9-0 on the year and currently ranked eighth in Class AA.

The Royals sit three points out of first place in the Suburban East Conference and will look to claw closer with SEC contests this week. They host Cretin-Derham Hall on Tuesday and play at Hastings on Thursday. A non-conference clash against Saint Paul Academy will wrap up a busy week for the Royals on Saturday.

-Matthew Davis