MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — As Benilde-St. Margaret’s celebrated its sectional championship win over Wayzata on Friday night, you couldn’t help but feel like the Red Knights were still celebrating a win that had come two nights earlier.

“A lot of it is relief,” senior co-captain Kelly Pannek said. “And just happiness. I mean obviously, the past three years have not gone the way we wanted them to.”

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The last three years, Benilde-St. Margaret’s had made it to the sectional title game and they lost to eventual state champion Minnetonka every year.

Except this year, because the Red Knights beat Minnetonka in the section semifinals on Wednesday, 4-2.

“That was like having a thorn in my side,” BSM coach David Herbst said. “And I pulled it out, and I said, ‘now this is a whole new ballgame.'”

It’s a whole new twist on the state tournament. All of the sudden, the team that hasn’t been to state since 2008 is the favorite.

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“I don’t mind that at all,” Herbst said. “We’ve got a pretty good record.”

“It’s not a new position for us. We’ve been ranked No. 1 before,” Pannek said. “It’s going to be different obviously because it’s state, but we’ve dealt with pressure. We’ve played in big games.”

Now, they’ll finally get to play in their biggest games yet.

“Couldn’t be happier,” Pannek said. “Obviously our dreams of going to state are finally coming true.”

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“It’s about time,” Herbst said. “It’s about time.”