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Madison Maas, a senior, leads Burnsville with 28 goals this season, but she is far from the team's only weapon. Photo by Cassandra Hansen, Special to the Star Tribune

Madison Maas vividly recalled Burnsville’s bitter ending to the lacrosse season last spring.

The Blaze’s year not only ended against Lakeville North, but it ended prematurely. With the Panthers leading by three with six minutes left, the game was called early due to inclement weather. Burnsville didn’t get a chance to fight back. More importantly, the seniors’ high school lacrosse careers ended in flash.

“That was their last year. That was their last game,” said Maas, now a senior herself and star attacker. “Not being able to finish their last game really put a damper on our season.”

So the calendar date was circled for this year’s rematch. Burnsville knew Lakeville North was a talented, high-scoring team again. The Blaze stuck with the game plan, isolated the Panthers’ leading scorers and dictated the pace of the game.

Coach Sarah Windhorst saw a dandy from the sidelines.

“That was a heart-wrenching game,” she said. “It looked like a state title game. The girls put every ounce of themselves into that game.”

They emerged with an 11-10 victory. Maas called last year’s senior captain Megan Carson after the game to tell her the news. Carson began crying on the phone, as many other Blaze teammates did after the game.

“Not only did we do it for ourselves and our team, but we did it for the seniors last year as well,” said Maas, who scored three goals in the contest. “This game wasn’t just for us.”

Maas leads the Blaze with 28 goals. She reads and reacts well to offensive situations. Maas puts herself in position to put shots on net. On top of that, she has electric stick skills.

But she’s far from being the team’s only weapon.

“If [Maas] were to have an off day, we have plenty of girls behind her that can step up and put the ball in the back of the net,” said Windhorst, now in her third year of coaching at Burnsville.

Lindsey Coleman has scored 24 goals this year. Her speed and quickness earned her the nickname “Wheels.” Kallie LaValle has 16 goals and Bailey Childs has added 14. Emma Wittchow scored three goals in the Lakeville North game. Wittchow stepped in to play goalie for four games when Jaclyn Hinz suffered an injury.

Briita Nelson has registered eight goals and 11 assists. Emily Skogseth has six goals and 10 assists.

Joelle Strand is the core defender holding down the back end.

“She’s the communicator,” Windhorst said.

When Windhorst took over the team in 2011, she inherited a young roster. Now they’re blossoming as players as juniors and seniors, and the results are speaking for themselves.

Windhorst credits the group’s work ethic and dedication, which involves some grueling 2½-hour practices.

“With that much practice time it can be hard to stay focused,” Windhorst said. “They do a very good job of it, and that’s why we’re on a roll right now.”

With the Minnesota State High School League expanding the state tournament field from four to eight teams, it’s an exciting time for the Blaze. It knows its section won’t be as big and daunting as it was last year. Their goals are set.

“One of the team goals for the team this year is not just to get to state, but to get to state and make a statement,” Windhorst said.

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