EAGLE RIVER, Wis. (WXOW) - The Northland Pines girls hockey team had made a habit of beating Goliath this year on their way to the sectional semifinals.
"We've played teams this year, where we are coming out of the locker room and we see girls in the stands that aren't able to play," said Patrick Schmidt, Northland Pines head coach. "They're wearing jerseys because they're on their teams, but because there are so many girls, they're unable to play."
With just fifteen girls on their roster, that's not a problem the Northland Pines girls hockey team has.
"About five years ago, we saw a peak at 36 teams, which we thought was really good," Schmidt said. "There were a lot of stand-alone schools, smaller teams, anywhere from 10 to 15 players, and then teams started co-oping and it became extremely tough for the smaller schools to compete with these big co-ops."
The Eagles are one of just two stand-alone teams left in the state.
"It makes a statement when us being such a small school and being just one take on big schools," said Allie Kieffer, a junior at Northland Pines. "Then, taking wins even, too, is really big for us, so we go into those games thinking we may be small, probably the underdog, but we can play and keep up with them."
The type of adversity the Eagles must overcome every year.
"The girls have always had the real grit attitude where they want to do it themselves," Schmidt said. "Whenever the word co-oping to make these super teams is brought up with the girls, they get pretty angry about it."
That makes winning so much sweeter.
"When the final buzzer rang, you can see it and watch it, we all were just so happy," Kieffer said. "Half of us were crying because it was so big for us. There were just smiles and grins on all of our faces."
"To see them go up against teams that are running three lines at us and we're able to beat them with nine, it always gives you a little extra smile," Schmidt said.