Nike/LM HS Midwest Report: Eden Prairie Completes Quest
The Eden Prairie (Minn.) girls' lacrosse team had its sights set on a state title from Day 1.
The Eagles just didn't plan on such a wild road to get there.
After just falling short of a state title each year since winning their last championship in 2009, they were determined to end the season right this time. The Eagles were finalists in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014 – and semifinalists in 2013 – and nothing short of a title would have been satisfying.
Coach Judy Baxter said that goal came up at the team's very first practice.
"They certainly established the ground rules early," Baxter said.
For much of the season, it seemed a title would come easy. The Eagles routed team after team, dropping a lone loss to Midwest powerhouse Loyola Academy (Ill.).
Girls' Midwest Player of the Week
Sara Woodring, Eden Prairie (Minn.)
The Eagles might not be holding a state championship trophy if not for Woodring. Trailing 8-2 against Stillwater (Minn.) in the semifinals, Woodring snuck in a pair of goals before halftime to cut the deficit. She later stole the ball from the keeper and put home the game-tying goal with seconds remaining to send the contest into overtime, where the Eagles prevailed, 15-14. She didn't let up in the title game, notching a pair of goals and a pair of assists.
Also notable: Kelly Wolfe (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Sammie Morton (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Jessica Lagerquist (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Chloe Crosby (Lakeville South, Minn.), Maddy Canney (Lakeville South, Minn.)
Perennial rival Blake (Minn.), the school responsible for Eden Prairie's title losses in 2010, 2011, 2012 and 2014, fell in the semifinals.
The path was paved for an Eagles title.
Except, Stillwater and Lakeville South apparently didn't get that memo. It took extra time in the semifinals and finals for the Eagles to finally secure a trophy.
Indeed, Baxter said she was tense just talking about her team's postseason run.
"It was very exciting. I'm nervous telling you about it now," Baxter joked. "I look back at some of our other state championships through the years and truly none of them were ever this close."
Most notably, Eden Prairie trailed Stillwater, 14-11, with 39 seconds remaining in the state semifinal game.
"Quite honestly, I don't know that I've ever been, as a player or a coach, in a (win) where we've been down three goals with 39 seconds left," Baxter said. "It's nothing short of miraculous."
A lot of teams would have given the ball to their star and just let them go to work.
Not the Eagles, who used a balanced scoring effort to get the job done.
"I don't think we really did dictate who should get the ball and how we were going to work it exactly," Baxter said. "The girls just moved it and found the opening and capitalized."
Senior Angie Heppelmann, Eden Prairie's sixth-leading scorer, made it 14-12.
"Somehow gamers step up, and she has a lot of experience playing in a lot of tough hockey games," Baxter said. "That kind of experience lends itself well to our game."
Eight seconds later, it was Naomi Rogge, the Eagles' fifth-leading scorer, who made it 14-13. Then, Sara Woodring stole the ball from the goalie, scored and sent the game into overtime.
Then, to top it off, eighth-grader Brooke Lewis – with just 11 goals entering the night -- won the draw and scored the game-winner with a second remaining in the first half of a two-half overtime.
The championship game was much of the same. The Eagles took a 5-1 lead on the backs of five different scorers.
"I anticipated that we were going to continue on that competitive run, totally in charge and in control of what we were doing and holding onto that five- or six-goal lead," Baxter said. "That's what we expected – and then things changed."
Even as the Eagles' lead diminished, their balance did not. Jessica Lagerquist and Sammie Morton each had hat tricks, but no one took more than four shots. Seven players scored, including Hannah Brink, with just nine goals entering the game.
Perhaps what's most surprising about Eden Prairie's title run, though, is how a team that played so few close games – just two were decided by three goals or fewer in the regular season, with no overtime games – became so effective in the clutch.
Baxter said learning something from the loss to Loyola Academy (Ill.) might have had something to do with it. The Eagles and Ramblers have squared off for three straight years – and six of eight – and while Eden Prairie hasn't won the rivalry in a long time, the Eagles certainly have taken plenty from it.
"It is pivotal for us," Baxter said. "It brings out, I think, the best in our team and lets us know what it's really like to compete and how good teams really can be."
Eden Prarie celebrates after securing its first state title since 2009 - despite reaching the finals in four of the past five years and the semifinals in the other. (Courtesy photo)
Nike/LM Midwest Girls' Top 10
1. Loyola Academy (Ill.), 24-3
2. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 19-2
3. East Grand Rapids (Mich.), 24-1
4. Hinsdale Central (Ill.), 15-9
5. New Trier (Ill.), 20-3
6. Glenbrook South (Ill.), 19-5
7. Rockford (Mich.), 21-3
8. Sycamore (Ohio), 17-4
9. Eden Prairie (Minn.), 17-1
10. MICDS (Mo.), 18-2
Eden Prairie (Minn.) secured its first state title in six years with a double-overtime victory over Lakeville South (Minn.). The Eagles led 5-1 in the first quarter before Lakeville South scored five of the last seven to end the frame. The Cougars continued to battle throughout, but Eden Prairie never trailed, winning behind a balanced offense with seven different scorers.
Stillwater (Minn.) got off to a great start this season – winning 15 of its first 17 games – but ended with two straight losses. The Ponies blew a 6-1 lead in the state semifinal against Eden Prairie, only to fall in overtime, and then lost the consolation game against Blake School. Making matters worse, the team graduates its three leading scorers in Remi Larson, Carter Sanderson and Ellie Anderson.
Nike/LM Midwest Boys' Top 10
Boys' Midwest Player of the Week
Joey Goudreau, White Bear Lake (Minn.)
Goudreau tied a state record with his five assists in White Bear Lake's 12-8 victory over Bloomington Jefferson – helping the Bears to their first-ever state title. Interestingly enough, he had 10 assists in his first 16 games and matched that total in the Bears' final three. His three first-quarter assists in the state final helped White Bear Lake to a 6-2 lead that it would maintain throughout. He assisted on five of the Bears' first nine goals.
Also notable: Ryan Graff (Bloomington Jefferson, Minn.), Ethan Peterson (White Bear Lake, Minn.), Connar Dehnert (White Bear Lake, Minn.), JD Spielman (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Jake Myhre (Eden Prairie, Minn.), Roman Rohrbach (Lakeville North, Minn.)
1. Culver Military (Ind.), 17-6
2. Brother Rice (Mich.), 19-4
3. Carmel (Ind.), 18-3
4. New Trier (Ill.), 18-4
5. Cincinnati St. Xavier (Ohio), 18-5
6. Detroit Country Day (Mich.), 15-7
7. MICDS (Mo.), 16-4
8. Upper Arlington (Ohio), 17-6
9. Cleveland St. Ignatius (Ohio), 17-3
10. Hudson (Ohio), 19-1
White Bear Lake (Minn.) captured its first-ever state title by beating then-undefeated Bloomington Jefferson (Minn.) 12-8 in the final. It took an upset win over Eden Prairie (Minn.), 15-14 in overtime, to get to the title game, where the Bears were able to stretch their win streak to 18 games. Their lone loss was in the season opener, 11-10 to Wayzata (Minn.).
Eden Prairie (Minn.) will have a hard time letting this chance at a state title go. The Eagles led 6-1 in the second quarter of their state semifinal match against the Bears, before surrendering five straight goals. They led at halftime too – and again allowed White Bear Lake to go on a 4-0 run coming out of intermission. Eden Prairie still managed to hold a 13-12 advantage late, but Charles Bill tied the score with just over 30 seconds remaining in regulation, and the Bears went on to win 14-13 in overtime.
Boys' Midwest Notes
While the Eden Prairie (Minn.) girls' team celebrated a hard-earned state title, the boys' squad isn't so happy.
The Eagles' season came to a stunning halt after letting a 6-1 lead slip away against White Bear Lake in the state semifinal. Even after Eden Prairie retook the lead, 13-12, in the final minutes, it wasn't enough as White Bear Lake's Charles Bill tied the game with seconds remaining and Shane Olson put the winner home for the Bears in overtime.
"It's extremely disappointing," coach Ryan Ward said. "I think the guys are really, for lack of a better term, pissed off."
Fortunately for the Eagles, the future looks bright.
They return both of their goalies and nearly their entire defense. The attack retains JD Spielman, who ended the 2015 campaign on fire.
After scoring five in the regular-season finale against Chanhassen (Minn.), Spielman had two in the postseason opener, four against Blaine in the quarterfinals and four more in the semifinals against White Bear Lake to bring his season total to 46.
"He's the best player in the state," Ward said. "If you had to pick one player in the state you would want to draft on your team, it's JD. He's so athletic. He's so competitive. He's a gamer. He was a big force all year. You can't say enough about him."
Faceoff specialists Jake Myhre and Rio Tysk rejoin Spielman next year, as will Ben Price (60 groundballs) and Nick Leiverman (24 goals, 22 assists).
"JD just has to do what he's done since his freshman year. If he does that, he'll be fine," Ward said. "We're going to need secondary scoring. We can't just rely on JD. We need some guys to step up."
Sometimes in the postseason, a team needs a role player to step up.
That was the case for White Bear Lake (Minn.) as it captured its first-ever state title.
With Ethan Peterson and Connar Dehnert pacing the attack all season long, fourth-leading scorer Shane Olson came up big in the team's semifinal upset of Eden Prairie (Minn.), notching four goals and an assist. He also had a pair of goals in the title game, as did Hunter Peters, who came on late in the season.
Though Joey Goudreau was named Lacrosse Magazine's Midwest Player of the Week, it was actually White Bear Lake's Peterson who captured the MVP award in the state championship.
It was a nice capper on a tremendous season in which he won approximately 73 percent of his faceoff attempts and was among the state leaders in assists and groundballs. The state final was no different as he scooped up 12 groundballs – the eighth time this season he has topped 10 groundballs.
Nike/LM Midwest Region Report Archive
- June 11: MICDS Strong as Ever
- June 4: Ohio Makes it Official
- May 26: Viator's Stunner
- May 19: Country Day Making a Run?
- May 12: Marquee Win for East Grand Rapids
- May 5: EGR's Road Swing
- April 28: Hudson's Title Hopes
- April 21: The Illinois Food Chain
- April 14: Depth Gauge in Ohio?
- April 7: Loyola Rambles On
- March 31: Early Challenges Key
- March 24: Excellence Takes Work
- March 17: Mason's Familiar Face on New Sideline
- February 25: Preseason Top 10 and Players of the Year
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