Stillwater senior Dana Almquist, front, scored 10 goals in the Ponies' 21-20 victory over Minnetonka. Photo by Katherine Matthews
Spring, summer, winter and fall, girls’ lacrosse is a sport for all seasons in Stillwater.
Morning and night, too. It’s all lacrosse all the time in the far east metro.
This spring’s foul weather was barely a speed bump for the Ponies, who booked a dozen 5:30 a.m. practice sessions indoors at the St. Croix Recreation Center. They’ve started some their practices late into the evening, too.
“We haven’t missed a practice yet,” Stillwater senior Dana Almquist said. “All those wintry days, we figured out a way to practice, whether it was 5:30 in the morning or 10:30 at night. And I think we just really worked our hearts out.”
The Ponies also are regulars in the weight room. They have added yoga sessions to their routine. All of that on top of summers -- the offseason -- loaded with practices, scrimmages and games.
If any program is going to break the stranglehold Blake and Eden Prairie have on the state – the Bears and Eagles have met in all six MSHSL championship games – maybe, just maybe, it will be Stillwater.
The Ponies haven’t lost a junior varsity game in three seasons, they have a bona fide superstar in Almquist and, as of Saturday, May 11, a signature victory on their resume.
Stillwater's Dana Almquist, right, has scored 60 goals in eight games this season. Photo by Katherine Matthews
“I think we’re really happy that we won and we can use this going forward against Blake and (Eden Prairie) and teams like that,” Almquist said after No. 4-ranked Stillwater’s 21-20 victory over No. 3 Minnetonka at Minnetonka High School.
Almquist scored 10 goals in the triumph, including three in 32 seconds in the second half. She leads the state with 60 goals in eight games, all of them Stillwater victories.
“She’s fast,” Stillwater coach Rick Reidt said, pointing out Almquist’s most obvious attribute.
Almquist’s contributions go well beyond her track star’s speed and impeccable shooting. She is unflappable under pressure, a rock, a natural born leader.
“I’ve coached Dana since she’s been in the fifth grade,” Reidt said. “And she is always calm. Totally calm. She knows what she can do.
“She has everything. She is one of our best defenders. She’s a super leader, and everyone just looks to her for her leadership skills.”
Stillwater has reached the last two state tournaments, and Almquist was one of six players selected to last year's all-tournament team. She got plenty of support from teammates Katherine Sheely (four goals), Emma Wiessner (three goals) and Maggie Corman (two goals) in Saturday’s victory over the Skippers. Goaltender Marie Bonine contributed with 12 saves, several of them coming with a high degree of difficulty.
And with Minnetonka rallying to within a goal with 1 minute, 14 seconds remaining, Stillwater controlled the ball and killed the clock, never giving the Skippers a chance to cross midfield, much less take a final shot.
The Ponies have at least two more opportunities to further elevate their status. Road games against No. 2 Blake (May 18) and No. 1 Eden Prairie (May 21) loom on their schedule.
Senior forward Dana Almquist scored 10 goals, including three in a span of 32 seconds early in the second half, to power the No. 4-ranked Stillwater girls past No. 3 Minnetonka 21-20 on Saturday, May 11, at Minnetonka High School.
Almquist scored six goals in all in the second half, and she bumped her state-leading season total 60.
Minnetonka junior Holly Korn scored six goals, increasing her season goal total to 41, good for second in the state.
Stillwater (8-0) led 10-8 at halftime, and the Ponies used 7-2 run to start the second half to extend their lead to 17-10. Almquist scored five of Stillwater’s goals during the spurt.
The Skippers (8-2) climbed out of the hole by scoring four straight goals to start a 7-2 run.
A goal by Minnetonka sophomore Erin McGinnis, her third of the afternoon, completed the scoring with 1 minute, 14 seconds left. The Skippers were unable to gain control of the ball in the closing seconds, and the final horn sounded with Stillwater in possession in Minnetonka’s end of the field.
Katherine Sheely scored four goals, Emma Wissner had three and Maggie Corman two for Stillwater. Abbey Brodeur scored three goals for the Skippers.
Goaltenders Marie Bonine of Stillwater and Sophie Worrell of Minnetonka each made 12 saves.
Stillwater's Dana Almquist, left, leads the state with 60 goals. Photo by Katherine Matthews
1. Dana Almquist, Stillwater
Ten goals is a nice season for most players. How about 10 goals in a single game, against the state’s No. 3-ranked team? Almquist, part dragster part Humvee, seemingly scored at will, especially during an amazing 32-second span in the second half when she pumped in three goals. She now has 60 goals this season, tops in the state.
2. Holly Korn, Minnetonka
The 6-foot-2 Korn towers over defenders but has much more than a size advantage in her arsenal. Korn, a junior, used her knack around the net and wicked shot to score six goals, pushing her season total to 41, second best in the state.
3. Katherine Sheely, Stillwater
The junior forward scored three goals of her four goals in the first half, but her most important goal came late in the second half when she scored to give the Ponies a 20-17 advantage.