Penalty shots are hardly foreign to the Wayzata girls soccer team. The Trojans practiced them every practice this fall, meticulously—painstakingly—perfecting every individual’s strategy in the event it became part of a practical game situation.
In the end, it earned Wayzata a championship.
The Trojans beat Burnsville 2-1 on Thursday in the Class AA state finals, winning a 4-3 shootout against the Blaze at the Metrodome. It was a combination of goalkeeper Mara Dougherty’s two saves on six shots, and Chelsey Ulrich’s game-winner to end it, that delivered the title.
“I imagined it like every other practice,” Ulrich said. “Our other keeper (Delane Swanson) actually was the one that told me, ‘Chelsey, if you shoot it the way you do at practice, it’s guaranteed in.’ So I knew it really wasn’t an option to miss.”
The Trojans needed regulation, two five-minute overtimes and a six-round shootout to beat Burnsville, a scrappy team who, despite being outshot 23-15 in the game, stayed persistent from start to finish.
And it was Blaze sophomore Alyssa Blahnik who found the net first. Her goal 3:57 into the second half gave Burnsville (17-5-0) a 1-0 lead.
“Every time Alyssa got the ball it looked like there was an opportunity,” Trojans coach Tony Peszneker said.
But Wayzata came back. Kiana Nickel headed a ball past Burnsville keeper Meghann Rudolph to knot the score at 1-1 in the 58th minute. It would remain that way through regulation and overtime.
That set the stage for a back-and-forth shootout—one that five combined misses by the offensive kickers.
For Dougherty, not even the rigorous hours of practice could fully prepare her for the magnitude of the moment.
“All I’m thinking is I don’t want to be the one to not let our dreams come true,” she said. “We’ve wanted this the whole season, and I wanted this, too. So anything I can do, I was going to do.”
With the shootout tied 3-3, Burnsville’s Sarah Poythress hit the crossbar, giving Ulrich a chance for the win.
“I couldn’t even describe it to you—I still can’t believe it,” Ulrich said. “Everything I’ve ever done in my soccer career, that’s what we all shoot for. It’s like the last goal is accomplished.”
Dougherty, who made seven saves in the match, couldn’t agree more.
“Best feeling in the world,” she said. “It feels great because all of our hard work is finally paying off.”
GAME SCORING SUMMARY
2. 43:57 BURNS Alyssa Blahnik (Hannah Keirstead)
- 58:12 WAY Kiana Nickel (Maddie Eklin)
SO WAY Chelsey Ulrich
WAYZATA ALL-STATE SELECTIONS
Mara Dougherty (goalkeeper)
Katie Schulz (defender)
Kylie Schwarz (attacker)
Kiana Nickel (midfielder)