Apple Valley girls lacrosse heading to state
As the underdog in the Section 3 final on Thursday, even though they graduate Saturday, the seniors weren’t ready for their high school lacrosse careers to be over.
“They wanted to leave something behind to be remembered with.” Eagle head coach Alexandra Ross said.
Coming in as the presumed underdog after losing to the Panthers 18-7 earlier this season, the Eagles went in with nothing to lose.
“I never thought we’d get this far, but it just feels so great because we put so much into this season,” said Hannah Segar, who had five goals in the victory. “Our defense was on and our attack was on. We were just so aggressive.
It didn’t take one season to get to this point for the Eagles. Several seniors have been playing together on varsity since they were freshmen.
“It’s been four years of work,” Ross said. “Our first season was rough. I said way back then it was going to be a four-year journey.”
Ross came aboard when the now seniors were freshmen. Her first year they went 3-11.
“We learned a lot,” she said. “I learned a lot. The girls had never really played the sport before. They fell in love really quickly. All my varsity girls were out there last summer playing. They did three months of pre-conditioning. We knew if we kept working hard we could take any team in the state and we did tonight.”
The Panthers started out with a 1-0 lead thanks to a quick shot by Megan Skelly 16 seconds into the game. The teams exchanged goals during the next eight minutes until Segar gave the Eagles the lead 3-2 with 13 minutes, 9 seconds left in the first half.
Apple Valley never trailed from that point on often holding a two-goal lead.
The Panthers were able to find scoring lanes during fast breaks, but when the players were forced to set up their offense, the Eagles swooped down and shut them out.
“We watched our last game with them and practiced their offense all week,” Ross said.
With 1:40 left, Katrina Vogelgesang extended the lead to 9-6 allowing the Eagles to shift into clock-burning mode.
“We know how quick they can score so we knew we’d have to take some time off the clock,” Ross said. “We really held the ball and we were smart with the ball.”
Emmie Madsen and Hannah Koloski had two goals for the Panthers. Lauren Storhoff, Kacie Waagbo, and Skelly had the others.
For Apple Valley, Liz Hermes scored two goals and Mandie Kaiser the other.
Apple Valley will play in the state tournament next week in Chanhassen. The four teams will be seeded and the schedule is yet to be determined.
“We’d like to take on Blake (the defending state champion) again,” Ross said. “Our defense is ready now. Our goalie is playing great. She loves these high-pressure games.”
Apple Valley lost to Blake 13-11 on May 9. The other four teams who qualified for state include Eden Prairie and either Stillwater or Mahtomedi.
The loss ends Lakeville North’s season. Every member of the team is an underclassmen.