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Eden Prairie's Heidi Colford (27) scores in the first half against Apple Valley in the state girls lacrosse semifinals. Photo by Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Beware the star treatment.
 
Apple Valley’s Hannah Segar, a goal-scoring juggernaut and Ms. Lacrosse finalist, had trouble shaking unwanted companion Maddie Freeman of Eden Prairie, who was assigned with, in lacrosse parlance, “faceguarding” Segar in the state girls lacrosse semifinals on Wednesday, June 6, at Chanhassen High School.
 
Faceguarding is the lacrosse equivalent of the paparazzi’s insatiable appetite for, say, Angelina Jolie.
 
“Oh, it’s great strategy,” said Segar, a senior who had scored 64 goals entering the state tournament. “If I had a defender as good as (Freeman), I for sure would have done it, too.”

Apple Valley's Katie Larson, left, and Eden Prairie's Christine Easton fight for a loose ball in the first half. Photo by Carlos Gonzalez, Star Tribune

Segar scored a goal and was directly involved in another in the early going, but Freeman got the better of the matchup as Segar had trouble touching the ball after the first few minutes and never again unloaded a shot as Eden Prairie breezed to an 11-2 victory.
 
Eden Prairie, which finished second each of the last two seasons since its last title in 2009, plays Blake in the state championship game for the sixth straight year on Thursday at 2 p.m.
 
Freeman stayed within inches of Segar even when the Eden Prairie had the ball and was on the attack. The strategy was so effective that, by the second half, Segar was relegated to setting picks in an attempt to free up open lanes for her teammates.
 
Segar did appear to have Freeman winded in the first half. The Segar headed to the sideline for a tire change.
 
“I tried to keep her running, then my shoe broke,” Segar said. “It split in half. I had to get somebody else’s shoe.”
 
The assignment wasn’t completely foreign for Freeman, a junior midfielder who typically doesn’t start for Eden Prairie. She has dabbled with faceguarding opponents in previous games. It’s not a bad job, she said,
 
“[Playing) time is time,” Freeman said. “And it’s important. 
 
“You just have to stay on her. The whole time she would pick and roll, so you just have to anticipate that she is going to do that. The hardest time is when they go behind the net.
 
“The second half was better. I got to know how she worked.”

Eden Prairie picks up the pace after nervous start


Eden Prairie's Christine Easton (23) shoots and scores one of her five goals between Apple Valley defenders Dilini Sundaram, left, and Katie Larson in the first half of Eden Prairie's state girls lacrosse semifinal victory. Photo by Carlos Gonzalez, Star

It was an unfamiliar feeling for a team that has played in every championship game in state history.

For the first 17 minutes of Wednesday’s state semifinal at Chanhassen High School, it was a struggle for Eden Prairie. The top-ranked and unbeaten Eagles looked out of sorts — uncharacteristically rushing shots and turning the ball over.
 
They were nervous.
 
“We were just rushing everything,” senior Christine Easton said. “We were nervous and just not playing our game.”

Christine Easton

Apple Valley, playing in its first-ever state tournament, controlled play early, and tied the game at 2 midway through the first half.

Then, well, Eden Prairie showed exactly why it hasn’t lost a game since last year’s state title tilt.

Eden Prairie scored four goals in a four-and-a-half minute stretch late in the first half, creating the separation it needed to cruise to an 11-2 win and advance to the state championship game for the sixth straight season.

“There were some nerves to start, but we eventually settled down and played our game,” Eden Prairie co-head coach Beth Patterson said. “Our defense has been strong all season, and they kept that up today. They controlled the play, and they controlled the tempo of the game.”

Eden Prairie, which finished second each of the last two seasons since its last title in 2009, plays Blake in the state championship game for the sixth straight year on Thursday at 2 p.m.
 
Easton led Eden Prairie with five goals, and junior midfielder Emma Claire Fontenot had six assists.

Eden Prairie scored twice to open the game but then fell stagnant on offense. Apple Valley forced the Eagles into quick turnovers and off-balanced shots. Meanwhile, Apple Valley began to settle into a steady offensive rhythm.

Senior Hannah Segar got Apple Valley on the board when she buried a shot off a fast break at the 3:25 mark. Then senior Katrina Vogelgesang tied the score when she corralled a rebound and slid a shot short side.

“The first 15 minutes, we came out pumped and excited to be there,” Apple Valley coach Alexandra Ross said. “We were with them. … Then, we might’ve gotten a little too comfortable, and Eden Prairie took over."

Sophomore Heidi Colford put Eden Prairie ahead off a backdoor feed from Fontenot with 8:11 remaining in the first half, and from there, Eden Prairie was off and running.

The Eagles scored the game’s final nine goals, settling into a patient, possession-oriented attack that left Apple Valley with little opportunity to mount a comeback.

Now, Eden Prairie is in a very familiar spot: playing on the season’s final day with a title on the line.

“Every year, it’s always the same motivation,” Easton said. “We want to win it every year. … If we play our game, it won’t matter who we play.”
 
-- Bryce Evans, Special to the Star Tribune

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Maddie Freeman

What started as a back-and-forth battle turned into a blowout as Eden Prairie rolled to an 11-2 victory over Apple Valley in a state girls lacrosse semifinal on Wednesday, June 6, at Chanhassen High School.

Top-seeded Eden Prairie bolted to an early 2-0 lead, but No. 4 seed Apple Valley (13-5) answered with two goals of its own, with Hannah Segar scoring the first and Katrina Vogelgesang scoring the second, off a rebound of a Segar shot, to tie it.

With junior midfielder Maddie Freeman shadowing Segar's every move, Apple Valley's leading scorer and Ms. Lacrosse finalist touched the ball only a handful of times in the second half and did not have a good scoring chance.

Ms. Lacrosse winner Christine Easton scored five goals and junior Emma Claire Fontenot had six assists as No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie (17-0) remained unbeaten and reached the state title game for the sixth time in as many years.

Eden Prairie's Heidi Colford scored three goals and Jessica Lagerquist had two.
 
Eden Prairie goaltender McKenzie Johnson made seven saves on nine shots. Apple Valley's Ashlynn Seely made six saves on 17 shots.
 
-- Jake Lunemann, MN Lax Hub staff
Is it the unmatched quickness or the blazing speed that makes Easton, a senior midfielder known simply as “Giz,” so dangerous? Giz has got wicked good hands too, and all of her considerable skills were on display on the state’s biggest stage in five-goal performance that, for Easton, was merely a ho-hum output. She does, after all, hold a share of the state tournament record for most goals in a game with seven against Mounds View in 2010.   
 
Freeman had a ground ball and two draw controls, but the real stats to check in assessing her game are those of Apple Valley scoring whiz Hannah Segar. A Ms. Lacrosse finalist who entered the state tourney with 64 goals, Segar managed just one early in the first half and rarely touched the ball, much less generated any offense, after the early going.
 
A junior midfielder with size, speed and strength, Fontenot turned into a playmaking machine, notching six assists – two short of the state tournament record of eight set by Eden Prairie’s Emily Sherlock in 2008.
 
-- Loren Nelson, MN Lax Hub editor

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