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The Edina girls hockey account on X (formerly Twitter) posted after Saturday's 2-0 victory against Hill-Murray that the Class 2A state tournament championship came down to three words, in all caps for emphasis: WANT. IT. MORE.

What's behind those three little words might surprise hockey fans inclined to chalk up another state title (the girls program now has five) to, well, being "cake eaters," a term used to razz Edina for its perceived wealth and privilege.

Of course, no one would ever consider the Hornets to be a plucky underdog. But here are five reasons why Edina's most recent title required the most effort and growth of them all. Stick tap to colleague Heather Rule for corralling a number of these points throughout the state tournament and including them in our online coverage.

1. Dec. 5, 2023

Senior defender Taylor Porthan gave this specific date in response to a question about a regular-season turning point. The Hornets had lost 2-1 to Hill-Murray — the team they eventually defeated for a state title — and then 5-2 in the next game to section rival Benilde-St. Margaret's at home. Frustrated, coach Sami Cowger and the team had "a nice long talk" that night after the home game. "I think we were at Braemar until 11 p.m. maybe," Cowger said.

2. Accessing program depth

More than words brought desired change. One day after having the talk, Cowger called up three junior varsity players to the big squad: sophomore forwards Brenna Prellwitz and Charlotte Theirl and senior forward Afton Maiser.

Senior defenseman and co-captain Nora McConnell said those moves "completely brought the team chemistry together." She referred to those three players as "true locker-room people" and some of the best teammates she's had. They wound up combining for 18 points and 13 goals — none bigger than Prellwitz's game-winning goal against Minnetonka in the semifinals.

3. Playing the right goaltending hunch

Edina goaltending went by one name the past four years: Uma Corniea. How did the Hornets replace the 2023 Senior Goalie of the Year? With two capable netminders — juniors Nora Hannan and Reese McConnell.

Hannan missed time this season to play with the United States' U-18 team, allowing McConnell an opportunity. She passed the audition. They rotated through the postseason, with Hannan winning the Section 6 final against Benilde-St. Margaret's before yielding to McConnell for the state tournament quarterfinal. McConnell posted a 5-0 shutout of Northfield to end the rotation.

"She proved herself entirely in that game against Northfield, and at that point I wasn't looking back," Cowger said. "I just knew we had to roll her."

Senior defender Nora McConnell said she couldn't be prouder of her younger sister. "Honestly, I'm just happy that my coaches put some trust in her, and I think that she truly, truly deserves this," Nora said. "I think it's a hell of a way to go out being that I'm a senior and she's got one more year left."

Saturday night, Edina assistant coach Casey Purpur grabbed the game puck and awarded it to McConnell after her ninth shutout of the season; she finished the year 15-2 with a 0.87 goals-against average and .936 save percentage.

4. Letting skill players cook

Sophomore forward Lorelai Nelson helped break open the title game, scoreless through two periods, with a remarkable pass and even filthier shot. A sweet no-look pass from Nelson led to Whitney Horton's goal at 9:16 of the final period. Nelson handled the second goal herself at the expense of two helpless Hill-Murray defenders.

"Seeing it live, the first dangle I think my jaw hit the floor," Cowger said. "But I was like, 'Just shoot it.' And then she dangled again and I was like, 'Please just shoot it.' Then she took a stride and sniped and it shut me right up.

"It's not surprising. Lorelai is an extremely talented hockey player, and she has all the skills in the world to pull off goals like that — and it came at the most perfect time."

Nelson finished the season with 15 goals and tied for team lead with 28 assists.

5. Cowger growth as coach

Cowger was known as Reber when she led Edina to runner-up finishes in the 2010 and 2011 state tournaments. She later replaced Laura Slominski, her coach as a Hornets player, and inherited one of the state's most talented rosters. Cowger led those players to state titles in 2017-19.

"For those first three years, truthfully, things kind of came easily," said Cowger, who sometimes epitomized the old saying about being born on third base but thinking she hit a triple. "The girls this season taught me a lot about myself but also, who I could be as a coach and what I can do to always get better.

"This team showed up and bought in at the right time. They wanted it more, and they went out there and did it [Saturday]. What I loved that they taught me was, anything is possible when you instill the right mentality, the right motto and put the right people in the locker room — we are capable [of competing for a state title] every single year. It's so cool to see these kids can do it when they put their minds to it. Now we get to hang a banner in our Braemar Arena."

Edina's individual statistics

Edina's team statistics

Edina's schedule and results

Edina's roster

How the Class 2A bracket played out