Sophomore scores six times in ninth state championship meeting with Blake
Call it a three-peat, a hat trick or a dynasty as Eden Prairie girls lacrosse won its third consecutive state title on Saturday.
Perhaps it was fitting that the Eagles (18-1) faced none other than Blake School for the title and came out ahead 16-10.
“It never gets old,” Eagles co-head coach Judy Baxter said. “What a great, competitive game and I’m sure the fans loved the competition. We always look forward to playing Blake, we know they will always bring their best game, they’re strong form beginning to end and knew it would be a tough match up.”
The two teams met in the state final for the ninth time since 2007, when the Minnesota State High School League first sanctioned a state tournament, as the Bears still hold a 5-4 series edge.
Eagles sophomore Abby Johnson scored four of her six goals during, one goal away from the state tourney single-game record of seven goals, shared by four players including former Eagle Caz Norwich in 2009.
Eagles senior midfielder Naomi Rogge had four goals and an assist and classmate and fellow captain Sammie Morton picked up three goals and an assist.
Four Eden Prairie teammates were named to the All-Tournament team including senior Hannah Brink, Kate Pearson, Rogge and Morton.
Blake (14-5) led 3-0 early on but Eden Prairie scored nine of the next 12 goals to take a 9-6 edge into halftime.
“This was a tough challenge but last year we had to come from behind, down six and we didn’t want to be in that situation again but unfortunately we were down early and the team showed a lot of confidence and resilience and this is a really special group, super athletic and very talented,” Baxter said. “But more than that, they have a really high work ethic and pushed each other at practice and that makes a difference.”
It’s that work ethic to stay engaged in the game that helped Eden Prairie fight back in the final.
Rogge added, reflecting on last year’s finals start: “We didn’t want it to happen again, for sure. That’s a big hole, even 3-0, because momentum can shift either way but we stayed positive which helped us and got together after each goal to see what happened and didn’t make the same mistake twice.”
The draw plays a big role in determining possession for a game and the Bears had the early edge before Morton clamped down on winning more of those or feeding the draw to a teammate.
“It was a reality check a little bit because we can’t take anything for granted and that’s been a motto for us all season because we have a big target on our back,” Morton, a senior captain heading to play lacrosse at Denver next season said.
In the second half, Morton, the captains and coaches told the girls, “We’ve been preparing for this all season, it’s nothing different from what we’ve practice and just take the pressure as it came.”
The Eagles scored the first three goals of the second half before Rogge left the game because of a dangerous shot that hit a teammate. As a result, Blake was a player up and took advantage with a goal to make it 11-8.
Rogge said Coach Baxter might have jinxed her after typically pulling Rogge out of practice when playing a man-down.
“It’s all right,” Rogge said. “I knew our team could do it during practice.
Our coach jinxed me because I’m the one pulled out for a man-down.
Had to be, meant to be, one day and I guess it was today.”Rogge closed out her senior season with 88 goals, 37 assists, 148 draw controls and 70 ground balls to lead the team followed by Morton with 74 goals and 26 assists. Sophomore Brooke Lewis had 63 goals and 23 assists in addition to 31 ground balls and 20 draw controls. Freshman Maggie Brown had 38 ground balls this season in addition to 27 goals and 21 assists.
Baxter said the team chemistry also helped the team along where the scoring or play-making didn’t have to come from just one or two people.
“They balanced well where if one girl was shooting at the goal, another would step up and (Friday) junior Alyce Holden stepped up and had five goals and got the game ball and today sophomore Abby Johnson stepped up and had five goals and that’s a sign of a good team.”
Across the defense, Baxter liked the big saves make by sophomore Emilie Bloyer who made 12 saves at state, six in the final.
Rogge on the senior class finishing with three state titles: “Quite amazing. You always want to go out on top as a senior and we worked so hard. We’re best friends and we want to leave our legacy in our own way and I hope that does.”
Follow Jason Olson on Twitter at @SunSportsJason