With big smiles spread across their faces and holding up pointer fingers to show they were No. 1, it was a good night to be a member of the Blake girls’ lacrosse team.
The Bears, ranked fourth in the coaches’ poll, defeated No. 8 Breck 16-3 to win the Independent Metro Athletic Conference title in front of their home fans.
“Beating Breck is always the cherry on top,” said Blake senior goaltender Robyn Lipschultz, whose three allowed goals were the fewest of the season.
But before the ice cream was topped, Blake players said they were bombarded with smack talk from their Breck counterparts leading up to the game.
After at least five consecutive defeats of eight-plus goals, the young Mustangs were saying this was the year they would top the Bears.
“We took that into consideration,” Blake sophomore midfielder Sophie Skallerud said. “Our coach and our (athletics director) and everyone was talking about it. … It definitely hit home for us.
“They’re our friends off the field, not our friends on the field, and if they’re talking smack, we can bring it back at them.”
Not much smack talk was needed as the Bears offense came early and often, with Blake scoring the first eight goals before Lauren Kozikowski stopped the bleeding for Breck.
The Bears had seven different players score a goal, led by junior Emily Johnsrud and Shannon Ellis with four each.
Skallerud and senior midfielder Annie Lyman, who will play lacrosse at the University of Denver, added two each.
The two-goal performance was the lowest of the season for Skallerud, who was part of the state champion tennis team – which beat Breck - and also used to play varsity hockey at Blake.
And Skallerud, who stopped playing hockey this season but was still a manager on the team, isn’t the Bears' only multisport athlete.
Johnsrud is on the hockey team. Carly Bullock is a Princeton hockey commit. Junior Grace Vojta and freshmen Lucy Burton both play hockey, too, and both will play collegiately at Yale.
It’s a trend at Blake as a whole, with Athletics Director Nick Rathmann noting 47 percent of Bears athletes play multiple sports.
There’s even a gold pin awarded by Twin Cities Orthopedics for Blake athletes who play three varsity sports, or a silver one for playing three sports period, varsity or otherwise.
Bears interim coach Sarah Fellows said it’s “only an advantage” to play multiple sports, because it keeps players in shape in the offseason and enables them to “bring new aspects to the game.”
Lipschultz is a perfect example.
She played attack the last two seasons, but this year shifted to goalie. She’s also the goalkeeper for the soccer team and will play soccer collegiately at Johns Hopkins.
Fellows, who’s the interim coach because Linda Hokr is on parental leave after the birth of her son in January, said playing goalie in lacrosse “comes naturally” to Lipschultz.
“The ball is a lot smaller and a lot harder, but the concept of not being afraid of the ball is probably the biggest thing [that transfers from soccer],” Lipschultz said. “Time and reaction is the same for both.”
The transferrable skills aren’t 100 percent lacrosse-friendly, though.
“Some of our hockey girls shoot a little more hockey style,” Fellows said with a laugh. “But I think it’s only beneficial to be playing (other) sports in the offseason.”
Breck's Adri Keller looks for room against the Blake defense in a 16-3 loss on the road. Photo by Rick Orndorf
Blake scored the game’s first eight goals en route to a 16-3 home victory over rival Breck on Tuesday night to win the Independent Metro Athletic Conference title.
Seven players scored for the Bears (5-0, 2-0), ranked No. 4 in the latest coaches' poll, led by sophomore Shannon Ellis and junior Emily Johnsrud with four each. Blake has scored 15 or more goals in each game this season.
Lauren Kozikowski scored the lone goal in the first half for the No. 8 Mustangs (6-1, 1-1).
The Bears continued their recent string of dominance against Breck, with Blake winning the previous five regular-season encounters by eight or more goals.
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