In an effort to describe her team after Edina battered Cretin-Derham Hall 17-11 in the Section 5 semifinals, one of the words co-head coach Chelsea Duke settled on for the Hornets was "green."
No pun intended.
Despite the joke, green is actually a great way to describe the No. 4-ranked Hornets, especially after moving on to the section finals with a win over the No. 5-ranked Raiders on Tuesday, May 29, at the Edina Community Center in Edina.
After all, the squad lost 14 seniors from last year including top scorer Paige Jones. This year, Edina features a grand total of two seniors.
Led by the deadly duo of sophomore Sheila Hirsch and junior Madeline Rodriguez the Hornets looked anything but young while picking apart the Raiders defense on Tuesday, scoring more goals on Cretin-Derham Hall than the Raiders had given up all season.
So far this year, green has proven to be a good thing for Edina.
Because so many seniors graduated, almost all of the players for Edina were brought up as one big group and have been playing with each other in the younger leagues. This leads to a serious depth charge, and weapons all over the field.
In the section playoffs, the Hornets have averaged nearly 20 goals per game in three wins.
“We have a really new team,” Rodriguez said. “We graduated a lot of seniors last year and everyone who's come up from the younger teams has been a big contributor this year and we can count on everyone to help out.”
Five of the Hornets six goal scorers on Tuesday were sophomores or younger, with Rodriguez playing the role of grizzled vet as a junior.
“Today on offense our main goal was that we wanted to spread out, run our plays, and play smart,” Duke said, explaining the Hornets offensive attack.
Much like a swarm of hornets, Edina tries to incorporate every player and hit the defense from all angles.
“We spread out as much as we could, we ran a couple of our different plays, we were making great cuts, making great shots and we wanted to consistently be doing that,” Duke said.
Quarterbacking the offense are all-state players Hirsch and Rodriguez, who combined for seven assists (plus six goals).
“Between Sheila and Madeline we’re able to find every player and they’re all great shooters, so all they have to do is slam it in,” Edina co-head coach Beth Neary said, painting a scene that happened all too often for the Raiders. “It means that everyone on the team gets a chance to shoot and then we can use every player on the team.”
Green like Edina, green as in young and lightning-quick, green as in a buzzing Hornets' nest -- No. 2-ranked Blake should have its hands full in the section finals on Thursday, May 31 in Edina.
“When you’re looking at Madeline Rodriguez or [Hirsch], you really don’t know where they’re coming from,” Cretin-Derham Hall coach Andrew Lecker said. “What makes them such a great team is that they had depth. We didn’t have it today, we had a few kids score, but we really didn’t have it and credit to them, they played well.”
Cretin-Derham Hall’s season may have come to a close on Tuesday, but the silver lining is easy to find for the Raiders, who finish the season ranked No. 5 in the state.
Coach of the Year winner (shared with Eden Prairie co-head coach Judy Baxter) Andrew Lecker of Cretin-Derham Hall, was pleased with the way the Raiders finished out and kept fighting until the end.
“The reality is that one loss doesn’t mean it’s a bad season,” Lecker said after the 17-11 loss in the Section 5 semifinals to No. 4-ranked Edina. “When you have team four versus team five in the state, a tough section, all good things come to an end. Basically, we worked hard. We worked hard from day one until the end of the day.”
Finishing with a 12-4 record and two 2012 Minnesota Girls Lacrosse Coaches Association All-State players in Chloe Kinsel and Maddy Mingo, the Raiders garnered hardware and well-deserved accolades.
Three out of the squad's four losses came to perennial powerhouses in Eden Prairie, Blake, and Edina, all who were ranked higher than Cretin-Derham Hall. The Raiders also defeated top-ten opponents Stillwater and Minnehaha Academy during the regular season
“We’ve made serious steps forward in the last three years,” Lecker said about his program. “We graduate seven but we bring up a class of more ninth grade girls this year. We work hard and we’re gonna be able to compete with the best.”
Looking forward, replacing Kinsel, who scored 121 points this year, and Mingo, who tallied 90, will be difficult, but Lecker is optimistic about returning strong in 2013.
“I think that what we do is that we work hard in the offseason,” he said. “The seasons not over yet… We basically spend the next little bit of time playing wall ball and different kinds of activities to hone the skills. As seniors leave new kids come up, and that’s what we’re gonna look for is kids to step it up who are in their sophomore or junior season.”
No. 4-ranked Edina scored the first six goals of the second half to put away fifth-ranked Cretin-Derham Hall by a score of 17-11 in a Section 5 semifinal match up on Tuesday, May 29 at the Edina Community Center in Edina.
Down early and holding a three goal lead at the half, the Hornets exploded and put the game out of reach, holding the Raiders scoreless in the second half until the 9:57 mark when junior Jaclyn Phillips broke the ice.
Sophomore Sheila Hirsch had a game-high eight points, finishing with three goals and five assists. She assisted two goals in the Hornets’ big run but mostly was a catalyst during Edina’s 10 goal first half.
In that first half, both teams scored with ease. Nearly every possession resulted in a goal and the pace was frantic, especially on Edina’s end.
Four different Hornets had more than five points. Hirsch led the way with her eight, followed by sophomore Natalie Racuhle with six (five goals, one assist), junior Madeline Rodriguez with five (three goals, two assists), and sophomore Laura Baker with five (two goals, three assists).
Junior Brianna Bellows also had three goals for Edina, a team averaging nearly 20 goals per game in the section playoffs.
The Raiders made a late push for a comeback, scoring four unanswered in the final few minutes. The burst of energy wasn’t quite enough though as Edina had set the bar too high.
As expected, senior Chloe Kinsel carried the scoring for Cretin-Derham hall, netting four goals and an assist. High scoring senior Maddy Mingo had two goals and an assist.
1. Sheila Hirsch, Edina
The sophomore was all over the field for the Hornets, picking up eight points. She leads Edina in post-season points with 17 (seven goals, 10 assist) after finishing second on the team during the regular season with 64. She has 81 total points now with 50 goals and 31 assists, quite an accomplishment for an underclassmen.
2. Natalie Rauchle, Edina
Rauchle scored three of Edina’s six goals at the start of the second half, finishing with five goals and an assist. The sophomore has been on fire in the playoffs, notching 12 points including a team-leading 10 goals.
3. Chloe Kinsel, Cretin-Derham Hall
A disappointing end for her team sure, but Kinsel capped off a fantastic senior season with a four goal and one assist effort. She finishes her career as a Raider with 121-point (57 goals, 47 assists) season, an astounding average of 4.31 per game.