Former Wild Irish play a wild game
Girls lacrosse game not decided until final seconds
Everybody needed a few minutes to catch their breath after Tuesday’s Rosemount-Eagan girls lacrosse game.
The first varsity game between girls who used to be teammates left both sides exhausted. Even the public address announcer at Rosemount High School had to be getting hoarse after reading off the scoring for 49 goals.
In a game when it became clear the last team with possession would win, Rosemount midfielder Cassie Miller scored off a restart with five seconds remaining to give the Irish a 25-24 victory.
It will be memorable to both sides for several reasons.
“We haven’t ever had a game that was this high-scoring,” Miller said.
Also, it was the first game between girls varsity teams from Rosemount and Eagan because previously the schools had been on the same side. They sponsored a co-op team called the Wild Irish before splitting after last season, after the combined team made a surprising run to the Section 3 final.
Because a combined Rosemount-Eagan team might have contended for a state tournament spot this year, there was some reluctance to split, said Rosemount coach Jeff Smith, who was head coach of the co-op squad the last two seasons.
“Some of the kids wanted to stay together,” Smith said. “It was tough for them. One of my favorite things (from coaching the co-op team) was watching how these kids from two different schools came together to create a team. But I think we also had some kids who were ready to break off on their own and have their own identity.”
If the co-op remained in place this spring, more than 70 girls likely would have come to tryouts. Eagan varsity coach Kerry Blaine said the two schools are not expected to have trouble filling teams.
“Rosemount has a great youth program and Eagan’s starting one now,” Blaine said. “Right now, we’re getting some girls who haven’t played much lacrosse before, but the interest is there.”
Experience might be the biggest problem facing the Irish and Wildcats this season. If the combined team had continued, it would have had a veteran player starting at almost every position. As separate teams, Rosemount and Eagan have filled in spots with players who are learning the sport on the fly.
“We have a lot of soccer players,” said Miller, a Rosemount senior captain. “We were looking for speed, and we knew we could work on stick skills later.”
The former Wild Irish played a wild game Tuesday. Rosemount took a lead in the first half, but Eagan fought back. The Wildcats had a two-goal lead with less than three minutes remaining before the Irish scored three in a row – two by junior Maddie Johnson, one by Meghan Tuccitto – to move in front 24-23.
Eagan senior Simone Haugen scored her 11th – yes, 11th – goal of the game to tie it 24-24 with 28 seconds remaining. With the teams scrambling for possession after the ensuing faceoff, officials called a foul on Eagan and awarded Rosemount the ball. Another foul gave Miller a chance to shoot following a restart and score the game-winner.
Rosemount took possession of a traveling trophy created by Blaine, an industrial technology teacher at Apple Valley High School.
Blaine’s team didn’t get to take the trophy back to Eagan as the Wildcats dropped to 1-9, but the coach said he saw positive signs for his team.
“We’re not happy with losing, but I thought we played well,” he said. “Both sides played well. There’s a lot to be proud of.”
Rosemount (7-3) appeared to be as much relieved as happy. Asked if he wouldn’t look forward to seeing Eagan in the section playoffs later this month, Smith said, “There are a lot of South Suburban Conference teams I don’t look forward to seeing again. We’ve had a lot of battles. We’ve had only one game where there was more than a three-goal difference.”
Said Miller: “We knew Eagan’s record wasn’t good, but we know what kind of players they have. You can’t underestimate anyone in lacrosse.”