Eagles’ challenge is making another run at state

Lacrosse team has to replace some key players

Sign of spring: Apple Valley’s girls lacrosse team couldn’t play Monday because of bad weather but stayed at the field long enough for a group photo in a snowstorm. Photo courtesy of Apple Valley High School

Sign of spring: Apple Valley’s girls lacrosse team couldn’t play Monday because of bad weather but stayed at the field long enough for a group photo in a snowstorm. Photo courtesy of Apple Valley High School

Now comes the test for Apple Valley’s girls lacrosse team: keeping the program moving forward after a breakthrough season.

The Eagles, who qualified for the state tournament for the first time in 2012 and finished third, will try to make another run at it without, among other things, the top four scorers from last season and the starting goalie.

Coach Alexandra Ross said the team is eager to take on that challenge, provided the weather allows them to get on the field. After having the rug pulled out from under several projected season openers, the Eagles were to play their first game against Eagan on Monday at Burnsville High School, which has an artificial turf field.

“Our girls have a lot of opportunities because there are so many open spots,” Ross said. “They went to off-season clinics. Fourteen of our girls went to Eden Prairie for a (winter) league. And the schools in our conference, like (Bloomington) Jefferson, Kennedy and Burnsville, they’re doing the same things.”

Ross, who coached the Eagles to a 14-5 record last season, said there’s still plenty of talent in the program, including a seventh-grader who’s already up with the varsity team. “We have some good players back from last year and we have some new players who are talented,” she said. “I think we’re capable of getting back to the state tournament.”

Captains Katie Larson, Nicole Van Beek and Jordyn Haupert all were regulars on last year’s state tournament team. Van Beek, a midfielder last season, is being moved to attack. Larson will remain at midfield and Haupert will return at defense.

The Eagles are hoping junior midfielder Blayr Thompson can replace some of what they lost when Hannah Segar graduated. Segar led Apple Valley in scoring last season with more than 100 points.

Seniors Haupert and Aubree Mickelson have varsity experience on defense. Juniors Erin Kinney and Marissa Guillou are the goalkeepers.

“I think they work hard and I like their attitude,” Ross said. “It looks like we’ll have some speed. We have some girls with a quick first step.”

The Eagles, for the most part, have been kept indoors while waiting for the season to begin. “It’s nice to have the extra practice time, but you can’t do the same things as you can on a full field,” Ross said. “Once we do get outside, we’re probably going to play three or four times a week and we won’t have that much time to practice.”

That’s where the Eagles’ experience in indoor leagues during the winter could prove useful.

“They’ve seen some really good competition already,” Ross said. “Some of the best players in the state played in that Eden Prairie league during the winter. They got to play Eden Prairie, they’ve seen Blake and Prior Lake. That should really help.”

The Eagles will be at Prior Lake at 5:30 p.m. Monday.

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