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Woodbury girls soccer: Header sends Royals to Section 4AA finals

Woodbury senior defender Grace Rogers scored what eventually became the winning goal for the Royals in a tight Section 4AA semifinal game.

Rogers scored on a header after senior midfielder Maddie Gaffney set her up. The goal came in the first half, but it became all the Royals needed in a1-0 win over White Bear Lake on Thursday, October 10.

“Anytime you’re playing White Bear Lake, it’s always going to be a tough, intense game,” Royals coach Pat Malicki said.

The Bears turned up the offensive intensity in the second half, but the Royals held them at bay with their defense and goalkeeping. Meghan Konop, the team’s junior goalkeeper, stopped eight shots in the game. None came bigger than when she stopped a shot in the final two seconds.

The 35-yard shot came hit the cross bar, and Konop took control to preserve the victory. Few Bears shots came closer as the Royals defense supported Konop and held the Bears to long-range shots.

“They didn’t get and real breakaways by any means,” Malicki said. “We kept them out of our box pretty well.”

The Royals opened the Section 4AA tournament with a 5-0 win over North Saint Paul. Four first half goals buried the Polars in that contest. Gaffney led the Royals with two goals in the game, and Rogers assisted on a goal.

The wins put the Royals 12-5-1, 6-2-1 Suburban East) in the Section 4AA finals for Tuesday, Oct. 15. They will take on Mahtomedi (16-1-1, 10-0-1 Classic Suburban) for a trip to the state tournament. The game was played after the Bulletin went to press.

This section final will come as a rematch between the Royals and Zephyrs. Gaffney scored the only goal the Royals needed in their first meeting on Sept. 14 in a 1-0 victory.

“That game could have went either way,” Malicki said. “It’s going to be another battle.”

Fortunately for the Royals, that win gave them the No. 1 seed and home field advantage against the Zephyrs in Tuesday’s title tilt at 7 p.m. The Royals also have a three-game winning streak versus the Zephyrs.

—Matthew Davis