It was a situation unlike any Eagan has faced this year.
None of the Wildcats’ 17 previous boys lacrosse games had been decided by fewer than four goals. But they needed to win a close game to keep their dream of winning a state championship, and junior midfielder Cole Powell’s goal at 58 seconds of overtime gave them a 12-11 victory over Mahtomedi in the state semifinals Thursday at Minnetonka High School.
The victory sends Eagan to the state final against Benilde-St. Margaret’s at 6 p.m. Saturday at Chanhassen High School. This is the first time Eagan (17-1) has reached the championship game in three appearances at state. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-2) won championships in 2007, 2010 and 2011.
Eagan trailed by three goals early in the fourth quarter against a Mahtomedi team determined to shut down the Wildcats’ transition game. But the Wildcats worked their way back, tying the game on Brandon Wuertz’s goal with 4 minutes, 13 seconds remaining. Eagan had a potential go-ahead goal disallowed with 25 seconds remaining because of a crease violation.
“We typically have a strong fourth quarter,” Powell said. “We have all season. We’ve won most of them. That was a little nerve-wracking for everyone. But the coaches have taught us how to handle that pressure all year, and it showed tonight.”
Wuertz, a Mr. Lacrosse Award finalist, had four goals in the semifinal game as well as an assist on Powell’s winner.
“I expected (Wuertz) to make the right play,” Powell said. “I thought he was going to shoot because he looked open to me, but he dished it, and I just had to turn quick and shoot.”
When Powell scored, the Wildcats’ bench emptied, the players creating a pile near the Mahtomedi goal. They were obviously elated and more than a little relieved.
“That intensity is something I haven’t felt, ever,” Powell said.
Eagan forced two Mahtomedi turnovers in the first minute of overtime before scoring the winner. Mahtomedi (16-2) had just one shot after the third quarter.
“We’re in really good shape. I don’t know why because we don’t run them a lot,” Eagan coach Bob Felter said. “Maybe our drills are up-tempo enough where these guys can run all day, and we fell back on that a little. I thought their defense was tired near the end and I knew we had an opportunity.”
Aaron Propson had three goals for the Wildcats and late-season junior varsity call-up Joey Diffley scored twice, not including his disallowed goal in the final minute. Eagan goalie Jack Courington made 13 saves.
The game tested Eagan’s patience as Mahtomedi played a zone defense to try to blunt the Wildcats’ movement and held the ball for long stretches on offense.
“Them having the ball for those long possessions, that had an effect,” Powell said. “We don’t get to have the ball, and when we play offense, that’s kind of where we get our juice. Luckily, our ‘D’ made some big stops and they played through that really well. I’m thankful for them.”
Eden Prairie 19, Farmington 3
Eden Prairie and Blake return to the state girls championship game, which will be 3:30 p.m. Saturday at Chanhassen High.
Two-time defending state champion Eden Prairie earned its spot in the final by routing Farmington 19-3 in a semifinal game Thursday in Chanhassen.
Farmington (15-3) returns to Chanhassen High at 1 p.m. Saturday for the third-place game against South Suburban Conference rival Prior Lake.
Eden Prairie was in control throughout, taking a 14-0 lead at halftime as the Tigers had trouble winning draws, maintaining possession or disrupting Eden Prairie’s attack.
Kamryn Corraro, Josie Laube and Christine Steffes scored for the Tigers, who are in the state tournament for the first time.
Eden Prairie (17-1) hasn’t lost to a team from Minnesota since falling to Blake in the 2014 state championship game. Last year the Eagles defeated Blake 11-9 in the state final.