The Centennial and Maple Grove girls will not duel for a state tournament trip this season, as they have for the past five years, but their conference rivalry lives on.
In what will be the two powers’ only meeting of 2019, Centennial (2-1) prevailed 2-1 over host Maple Grove (3-1) Tuesday evening.
The Northwest Suburban Conference rivals have met in the Section 5AA finals each of the last five seasons. Centennial won the first three and Maple Grove the last two. But this year, Centennial is in 7AA and Maple Grove is in 8AA.
The Cougars led 1-0 at halftime on a goal by Olivia Lovick, launched left-footed from about 18 yards, in the 23rd minute. Khyah Harper assisted.
Maple Grove pulled even on a well-placed shot by Emma Fournier into the upper right corner of the net in the 60th minute.
Harper broke the 1-1 tie with a dynamic play in the 68th minute.
With everyone in Maple Grove’s offensive end, the ball was booted toward the Centennial goal. Harper, a Gopher recruit and fastest player on the field, sped after the bouncing ball, with Maple Grove’s Kylie Baranick in pursuit.
Crimson goalie Martha Schmid left the net to try smother the ball, but Harper beat her to it. Harper tapped the ball forward, then put a juke on Baranick and steered the ball into an open net from about 15 yards.
Defenses on both sides kept the ball away from the net for the most part. Centennial’s Jenna Lang stopped three shots on goal and Schmid made two saves.