Since Chaska's return to Class AA in 2013, playoff girls soccer hasn't been kind to the Hawks.
Nineteen goals allowed, zero scored, in six first-round losses.
Entering the 2019 post-season winners of four straight, three by shutout, Chaska believed it could snap that playoff losing streak. The first 40 minutes, holding host Shakopee off the scoreboard, just furthered that belief.
"We felt like, we have a really good chance to win this game. It came down to putting the ball in the back of the net. Even just one goal to keep us going," Chaska's Ky Florek, one of three seniors on the roster, said.
Confidence grew as Hawks senior Alex Peterson scored on a blast from 18 yards out, a shot that bent into the top corner, giving Chaska the lead for good in the Section 2AA quarterfinals Oct. 8.
The 1-0 victory was the first post-season win since Oct. 9, 2012, a 3-0 victory over Breck School while in Class A. That Chaska team featured senior Nicolette Peterson. Her younger sister, Alex, advanced the Hawks seven years later.
"I kind of get nervous when we score so early, you almost pack it in, get so defensive with the lead. But it was relieving knowing we got that first goal. We were able to focus on doing whatever it took to clear the ball," Florek said.
"I'm just overjoyed right now. Not exactly sure how to describe what this means. It's pretty amazing," Florek added.
The winning goal started with a long boot from goaltender Jenna Williams, forward Sammie Ramboldt controlling the ball at midfield. Her pass to Jordan LeRoy on the left side was kept alive through two Shakopee defenders.
Peterson sat in space in the middle of the field, taking LeRoy's pass and firing a shot into the net exactly three minutes into the second half.
"It was an amazing shot," Florek said.
Chaska turned away every Shakopee attempt the rest of the way, strong play from LeRoy and Carly Glassberg. The defensive unit also included Florek, Abby Neisen, Ellie Harmon, and Abby Rogers.
"We have a strong defensive unit. It's still pretty young, a lot of juniors. I'm excited to see them be even better next year. I really felt after we got that goal we had it. The way we've played late in the season. Our defense has been strong, our midfield has been strong. I knew we could hold the lead," Florek said.
Chaska head coach Steve Vuolo freely subbed in and out all 16 players on the varsity roster, keeping the Hawks a bit fresher to close out the victory.
"Fresher legs helped a lot, plus it wastes a little time. Gives you a few seconds to catch your breath. We have such a deep bench and that showed in tonight's match," Florek said.
Chaska, now with nine wins, draws the defending Section 2AA and Class AA state champions in Minnetonka. Match time is 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10 at Einer Anderson Stadium.
MINNETONKA 8, CHANHASSEN 0
Before warm-ups began, Minnetonka head coach Jeff Hopkins pulled the Skippers aside for one last message.
Their title defense began with a team that took them to overtime early in the season. Don't take them lightly.
Four goals scored before halftime, Minnetonka made a statement, this team is ready to repeat its 2018 state championship run.
The eighth-ranked Skippers beat Chanhassen 8-0 in the Section 2AA opener Oct. 8.
Minnetonka, the No. 2 seed, hosts Chaska at 7:30 p.m. on Thursday, Oct. 10.
The Skippers scored twice on penalty kicks in the first half, tallies from Lissa Mizutani and Marli Bertagnoli. Chloe Loberg also scored, while Sophia Montague got the scoring going with her second goal of the season.
Bertagnoli registered her first hat trick after halftime, assists to Montague and Jelena Zbiljic, before Mizutani and Claire Carver put the finishing touches on Minnetonka's 13th win of the season.
Minnetonka has posted a shutout in nine of the last 11 matches.
Chanhassen, which entered the playoffs on a 3-2-2 stretch, finished with a 3-8-2 record overall. The Storm started the season with six straight losses.
The varsity roster featured seven seniors including captain Lillie Armstrong on defense, leading scorer Riley Lyons and Gabi Barriero.