A season that included eight overtime games, last-second heroics – and a penalty shootout victory that launched the Eden Prairie boys soccer team into the section finals – has come to an end.
The No. 3 seed Eagles fell to top seed Edina 2-1 in overtime Tuesday night. The Section 2AAA finals, on a neutral site field at Prior Lake High School, was played for the right to advance to the Class 3A state tournament.
The loss ends an unforgettable run for the Eagles, who defeated top-ranked Wayzata in the regular season finale, scoring the game-winning goal with just two seconds left in regulation.
The section playoffs included a quarterfinal overtime win over Chanhassen, in which the Eagles scored with just five seconds remaining in the first overtime period. And a sudden death shootout victory over No. 2 seed Minnetonka in the section semifinals brought the Eagles to the threshold of a state tournament berth.
But despite a superb performance against the talented Hornets, the Eagles’ season ended on a chilly October night in Prior Lake.
“Proud of the kids. I thought we were the better team. Give credit to Edina. They won,” Eagles co-head coach Jim Williams said. “Soccer is a cruel game sometimes. How do you explain to these seniors who put everything on the line and played so well?”
The Eagles did play well against a team that lost only twice all season and finished at No. 5 in the regular season poll. Eden Prairie had numerous chances off multiple possessions but couldn’t capitalize on their scoring opportunities.
“We did everything we could to win that game.” Eagles co-head coach Rob St. Clair said. “Especially as the game wore on, I thought we were the better team, I thought we had more chances, better chances. We just didn’t get the break that we needed.”
After a scoreless first half, Edina got on the board just 2:35 into the second half. Hornets senior forward Luke Aadalen put the ball by Eagles junior goalkeeper Zach Diermeier for the 1-0 lead.
The Eagles tied the game just three minutes later. Junior forward Ryan Donohue set up Sebastian Bocanegra-Lima to even the score.
“Sebastian was absolutely electric tonight,” Williams said, amazed by the play of the senior forward. Bocanegra-Lima wreaked havoc all evening on the Hornets, who were challenged to contain his frequent bursts of speed.
“Sebas, he’s been amazing this whole tournament,” Donohue said. “It’s great to play up top with him.”
If Bocanegra-Lima was electric, then Donohue provided the current, bringing the ball in from midfield with masterful footwork to set up the rebound chance for the game-tying goal.
“I see open space and take on a couple of defenders,” Donohue said. “You gotta go for that rebound. And luckily we had a player there and we finished it.”
The game remained deadlocked 1-1 at the end of regulation and moved into overtime, marking the eighth time this season the Eagles have gone into extra minutes.
Neither team scored in the first overtime period, despite chances for the Eagles, including Bocanegra-Lima finding the crossbar on a kick from the 15-yard-line.
“We finally found our game like we found our identity,” Williams said. “We had our chances. We just couldn’t find the winning goal. But it wasn’t because of lack of execution. We played really well.”
The Eagles spent most of the second overtime in the offensive zone, applying pressure to Edina goalkeeper Andrew Aasen. Eden Prairie had two corner kicks and numerous chances, but couldn’t find the elusive goal.
With 5:18 remaining in the second overtime, Edina maneuvered within close range and forward Carson Dederichs put the ball past Diermeier for the game-winner – and the sudden end to the Eagles’ season.
“We’ve been here (in overtime) so many times and we know how to do this,” senior captain Praynay Dhiman said. “Our coach says all the time, one lucky break can end the game and that’s what unfortunately happened today.”
With the victory, the Hornets will make their fourth straight appearance in the Class 3AAA state tournament. The Eagles finish the season 10-6-2 after the third loss this season to their Lake Conference rival.
“You can’t be anything but proud about the team,” senior defender Sam Phillips said. “We’re the No. 3 and upset the No 2. seed, then put up a hell of a fight against the No. 1 seed. “This is my family, my brothers, and we’re just really happy with the way we played.”
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