Girls soccer preview: Magic take on Eagles with first-ever state bid on the line

Coming off one of the biggest and most impressive wins in program history, Magic girls soccer will turn around and try to top it two nights later.

The Magic, fresh off a shootout win over Park Center Tuesday, will square off against Totino Grace for the Section 5A championship tonight at Maple Grove High School.

Monticello will be looking to make it’s first ever trip to the state tournament, while the Eagles will be looking to return. Totino Grace advanced to state last year by beating the Magic 1-0 in Monticello’s first-ever section final game.

The Eagles finished the season with a 14-2-2 record that included wins over strong programs such as Park Center and Holy Angels. That also included a 2-1 win over Monticello on Sept. 22 in a game that was played at Totino-Grace. Coach Brent Wuollet says the Eagles excel at taking advantage of others mistakes.

“They are an opportunistic team,” he said. “They’ll wait for you to get out of position.”

The last few matchups, that style has gotten the better of Monticello (10-6-3), as Totino has done just enough to win. They’ve ended Monticello’s season the last two years.

“Eventually it’s going to be our turn,” said Wuollet. “We know we’re capable of beating them.”

If Monticello is to beat them, they’ll need strong play from a handful of key individuals. First and foremost, Kallie Gau will need to be at her usual best in the goal. The Eagles are too good to not test Gau on at least a few shots.

But almost as important will be Danielle Gau and her defensive teammates who will be relied upon to stay focused and disciplined in a game where Totino-Grace might not attack often, but will attack with precision.

To help take the pressure off the defense and the goalie, midfield play will also be key. Wuollet was thrilled with how Julie Beniak and Kelsey Hendrickson played against Park Center, and they’ll need to do more of the same if Monticello is going to give their offense chances and keep their defense from getting worn out.

Offensively, Monticello will look to senior scorers Sarah Traczyk and Lealah Abraham. Traczyk got Monticello’s lone goal against Park Center and will be used to the atmosphere as she played a large role on last year’s team that advanced to the section final. Abraham has been an offensive dynamo at times this season (when she’s not being used on defense), and her speed could key counter attacks when Totino-Grace does attack on the offensive end.

In one game, in any sport, anything can happen. But that’s especially true in a low-scoring sport as soccer, where one kick is often the difference between going home and moving on. Coming into section play Monticello’s focus was to redeem themselves against Park Center and to give themselves an opportunity to make that ‘anything’ happen. Tonight, they’ll get their opportunity.

“This is where we were hoping to get,” said Wuollet. “Now, we expect to win.”

The game is scheduled for 7 tonight at Maple Grove High School.