MONTICELLO — Not bad for a girl who wondered if she'd even have a season this fall.

It was a year ago that Winona Cotter's Sera Speltz went down with a dreaded ACL tear in the Section 1A championship soccer match with Dover-Eyota. Cotter won that game, but Speltz had her heart torn out, shelved for the second half of the contest and wondering what her athletic future would look like.

Well, 12 months later and barely removed from endless rehab, the senior's athletic present has rarely looked better. That was Speltz, a heavy brace on her right leg, netting a hat trick and an assist Wednesday in the Class A state quarterfinals against St. Cloud Cathedral, leading Cotter to a 4-0 win.

All three of her goals came from a good distance, including a hard roller from about 25 yards away to end the first half. It made its way into the left corner of the net, sent with enough on it that the Crusaders goaltender couldn't stop it.

Speltz, by all accounts, is back. And her team will be back at it in another week, the No. 3-seeded Ramblers taking on No. 2 seed Minnehaha Academy at 7 p.m. Nov. 4 in the state semifinals at U.S. Bank Stadium.

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Finally healthy Cotter set to make its mark at state

Cotter will bring with it a 17-1-2 record and a very happy Sera Speltz, among other smiling Ramblers.

"It really felt good to feel more like myself in a game like this," said Speltz, who was an All-State midfielder as a sophomore and junior. "I still don't feel like I'm 100% there yet. But I'm close. I'm not just happy for me, I'm happy for our whole team."

Cotter coach Marie Barrientos has known all along what a close-to-100% Speltz would mean to her team. Speltz is that good. Now, to see her approaching that in the playoffs is nothing short of a present.

Cotter was plenty good without her, especially considering that senior Olivia Gardner has a massive 43 goals this season, junior Allyssa Williams has 26 goals and a state-leading 32 assists, and Ava Killian has 15 goals and six assists.

But when you toss a near 100% Speltz into that mix, look out.

St. Cloud Cathedral can now attest to that.

"This was a huge game for Sera," said Barrientos, who has Cotter at state for the first time in school history. "To see it come together today for her, from the beginning of the game to the end of it, was great. She'd come back from such a long injury. But today she looked very much like nothing had ever happened. It was emotionally what that kid needs right now. And for her to hit her stride right now in the playoffs is great for our team."

Cotter didn't hit its stride in this state semifinal game until nearly midway through the first half. Barrientos blamed some of that on her players getting acclimated to Wednesday's wet turf, with balls skidding off of it, making it tougher to connect passes.

There was also likely just the matter of settling down, this being the first state tournament appearance for any of them. But once that happened, it was Cotter connecting one pass after another and mostly living in unseeded St. Cloud Cathedral's end of the field.

The Crusaders (10-8-1) had few opportunities to score in either half. Cotter's ball control had much to do with that, as well as the Ramblers having an outstanding defense.

For the 10th straight time, and the 12th time in 13 games, Cotter shut out its opponent.

The Ramblers are rolling.

Winona Cotter 4, St. Cloud Cathedral 0

St. Cloud Cathedral 0-0 — 0

Winona Cotter 2-2 — 4

St. Cloud Cathedral: Goalie: Amelia Newiger 8 saves.

Winona Cotter: Sera Speltz 3 goals, 1 assist; Allyssa Williams 1 goal, 1 assist; Olivia Gardner 1 assists. Goalie: Tess Mullen 4 saves.