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Woodbury girls soccer: Gaffney, Royals beat Mahtomedi

Madison Gaffney continued to find the back of the net and the Royals posted a big win that could have playoff implications during a pivotal week.

The No. 7-ranked Royals beat the No. 6-ranked Mahtomedi Zephyrs on the road. The win boosted Woodbury's record to 7-1-2 (1-1-1 Suburban East Conference).

Though the Mahtomedi win didn't go toward its conference record, it could play an eventual role in Section 4AA playoff seeding. Both teams battled for the section title last year, with Woodbury coming out on top in an overtime thriller that sent the Royals to state.

Woodbury co-head coach Bill Ebertz said the Mahtomedi win could prove pivotal down the road.

"That's one more team that we can say we beat in the section," he said.

Woodbury's Madison Gaffney continued her torrid scoring streak with two goals against the Zephyrs.

"She's been on a roll," Ebertz said of Gaffney's scoring run.

Senior midfielder Elizabeth Nelson recorded the Royals' third goal in the game.

Gaffney now has nine goals on the season for Woodbury. She recorded a goal apiece in the Royals' previous two games against St. Paul Academy and Cretin-Derham Hall. The scoring torrent carried over from the previous week, when Gaffney recorded every single Woodbury goal during that stretch.

Ebertz said he expected Woodbury's state rank to climb after the Mahtomedi win and another victory last week over St. Paul Academy.

The Cadets, ranked No. 6 in Minnesota in Class A, fell at home 2-1 to Woodbury on Thursday, Sept. 13.

Gaffney and freshman Kim Taplin both recorded first-half goals, giving Woodbury a 2-1 halftime lead. The Royals scored the clincher in the second half off a Megan Sturges goal.

Eighth-grader Cecile Kieger relieved Royals senior Liz Sampson for second-half goaltender duties. Ebertz said coaches gave her the shot to gain experience "in case something happens down the road."

Woodbury already experienced setback on the goaltender depth chart the previous week when sophomore Meghan Konop broke her thumb in practice

The St. Paul Academy win came after a frustrating tie for Ebertz and the Royals at the hands of Cretin-Derham Hall.

Woodbury took a 2-0 lead - behind goals from Kristina White and Gaffney - late into the second half. But the Raiders stormed back in the closing minutes, recording two goals on corner kicks.

"You can't afford to give those away," Ebertz said.

The tie didn't help Woodbury's efforts to climb back atop the SEC leaderboard; a tie only earns one conference point, versus three for a win.

Unbeaten Park remained atop the conference standings at week's end.

"That hurts for the conference," Ebertz said of the Cretin game.

Woodbury headed into the season having defended its SEC title for 10 consecutive years.

The Royals head into the heart of the SEC schedule rejuvenated by the return of junior Grace Rogers, a standout defenseman who had been sitting out most of the 2012 season following a track injury she received in the spring.

"It's only a plus," Ebertz said of Rogers' return.

The Royals played Forest Lake Tuesday, Sept. 18, after the Bulletin went to press. They return to the field Thursday, Sept. 20, in a road game against Stillwater.