ST. CHARLES -- They'd been waiting and pushing for this.
Thursday night, Winona Cotter used all of that desire and drive to get over the hump, decisively beating Dover-Eyota 3-0 and thus earning the school's first Section 1A girls soccer championship.
Due to COVID-19 resctriction this year, and with it no state tournament, the Ramblers also did something else. They completed a perfect season.
Cotter finished 14-0-0, romping virtually ever step of the way. The Ramblers' statistics scream as much. Cotter outscored its opponents by a combined 87-8 this season.
The Ramblers did it their way — together.
"We are so good because we are so close," said Cotter star junior forward Olivia Gardner, who had one of her team's three goals Thursday, giving her 27 on the season and 100 for her career. Sera Speltz (who injured her knee in the second half and didn't return) and Ella Leaf also each scored against D-E.
"Our chemistry is our secret. We are all best friends. We know each other well because we've all been playing together for years. But this feels amazing. All of our girls gave 1,000 percent tonight."
Gardner got no argument from Dover-Eyota and its coach, Brad Hak.
The Eagles, seeded fourth in the tournament but riding momentum after having beaten No. 1 seed Rochester Lourdes on Wednesday, were no real contest for Cotter.
They were outshot 12-1 and rarely got a good look at the Ramblers' net. Cotter had downed D-E twice earlier this season, 7-2 and 5-2. But to Hak, this latest setback to Cotter was the most decisive one.
He gave all the credit to the No. 2-seeded Ramblers for that.
"They were such a team tonight," said Hak, whose Eagles finished 10-4-1. "Cotter came to play tonight. They possessed the ball and they finished on their opportunities. They were the better team. When you lose to a team that is better than you, you're not going to be ashamed of it."
D-E was feeling anything but shame at intermission. The Eagles, packing the back of their defense, had made things tough on Cotter. Though they were outshot 9-1 those first 40 minutes, D-E only allowed Cotter one goal, that by standout junior midfielder Speltz.
If the Eagles could just get some offense generated in the second half, it would be anyone's game.
But Cotter, paced by its star-studded and ball-controlling midfield of Speltz, Megan Morgan and Allyssa Williams, never allowed D-E to get going.
It left Cotter coach Marie Barrientos appreciating that trio one more time.
"We do a lot of one and two-touches (of the ball) with them at practices," Barrientos said. "And those three midfielders, they do it seamlessly."
It was Cotter's second straight appearnce in the Section 1A title match. A year ago, it lost a heartbreaker to Lourdes, 1-0. D-E was playing for the section championship for the first time since 2017, when they won it for the third consectutive year.
Cotter 3, Dover-Eyota 0
Dover-Eyota 0 0 — 0
Dover-Eyota: Goalie: Kylie Lacey 9 saves.
Cotter: Ella Leaf 1 goal; Olivia Gardner 1 goal; Sera Speltz 1 goal; Allyssa Williams 1 assist. Goalie: Sofia Sandcorck 1 save.