Eden Prairie goaltender McKenzie Johnson, left, looks to pass around Blake's Alex Lovaas. Photo by Katherine Matthews
In the world of sports, the word guarantee is used lightly.
However, when it comes to Blake and Eden Prairie lacrosse, you can guarantee a great game.
When the Minnesota State High School League sanctioned girls lacrosse for the 2007 season the Bears and Eagles have met in every state championship matchup, Blake winning the titles in 2008, 2010, 2011 and 2012 while Eden Prairie won on 2007 and 2009.
In the latest version of the rivalry No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie closed out the regular season with a 10-7 win against No. 2 Blake on Thursday, May 23 at Eden Prairie High School.
"It's a really fun game to play in, and to do it this late in the season benefits us as to where we are at in the season," Eden Prairie senor Emma Claire Fontenot said. "They are a great team and we have have done well this season and often it is just a great game like it was today."
Whether they like it or not, a rivalry has naturally been born between the two powerhouse programs.
"I know Judy (Baxter) respects our program and I respect hers," Blake coach Laura Mark said. "The games we play are certainly competitive and we want to win, but we definitely respect them."
Eagles' coach Judy Baxter and Mark are not only competitors, but they also are colleagues. They are directors of Minnesota Elite Girls Lacrosse which brings coaches and players from around the state together.
With the talent that floods Blake and Eden Prairie, the program has merged large portions of the teams' rosters in the offseason. As teammates they have forged friendships.
"A lot of these girls play together over the summer, so they know each other really well," Baxter said. "You see it after the game. They are talking to each other, asking how they have been. There is mutual respect for one another.
"You don't need to have blood to have a good rivalry or someone screaming that they hate another team. This was a great game between two teams that really enjoy playing against one another."
Blake and Eden Prairie also seem to bring out the best in players. Their latest contest was no different.
Fontenot scored five goals to lead the Eagles and was aggressive from the start. When she got the ball she made a line for the net.
"I think she has really been coming into her own," Baxter said. "I think it was around the time we played Cretin-Derham Hall, where she really found herself. She has been contributing all season, but it has really picked up in the last three games."
Fontenot has 37 goals this season. In her last three games, which included Cretin-Derham Hall, No. 3 Stillwater and Blake, she has tallied 14.
"I just really like playing in these big games," Fontenot said. "We play a tough schedule, so we get a lot of them."
The Bears featurejunior Lydia Sutton, who scored three goals and now has 41 on the season.
Fontenot and Sutton are just two names on teams littered with talent. Upperclassmen have been on their respective teams since their freshmen year and have reached their potential.
"I remember watching some of these players out here today that I saw just starting playing varsity a couple of years ago and just wondering how cool it would be to see them when they are juniors and seniors," Mark said. "I am seeing it now and saw it today and it is just incredible."
Heading into the postseason Eden Prairie and Blake will be the the favorites to collide in a seventh straight title match.
Baxter and the Eagles know the expectations, but they are not looking that far ahead.
"We have a tough section," she said. "We know that a lot of people expect us to be there, but we have three tough games before we even get to state and if we get to the section finals, we know that is going to be a really tough game."
No. 1-ranked Eden Prairie defeated No. 2 Blake 10-7 behind Emma Claire Fontenot's five goals on Thursday, May 23 at Eden Prairie High School.
The Eagles jumped to a 3-0 lead early in the first half, but the Bears would claw back to tie the score. Eden Prairie led 5-4 at halftime.
Blake's Lydia Sutton and Jordan Chancellor each scored three goals in the final regular season game for both teams.
The Bears finish the regular season 10-3 and the Eagles improved to 12-1.
Eden Prairie and Blake have played each other in every state championship game. The Bears have won the past three state titles. Eden Prairie also won last year's regular season meeting.
The senior midfielder found the net five times to give her 37 on the season and chipped in with an assist. Fontenot was aggressive and productive in the Eagles regular season finale. She is warming up at the perfect time with 14 goals in the past three games.
It is hard not to mention Sutton's name in reference to Blake lacrosse. The junior was a force again with three goals, giving her 41 on the year. She fought her way through a stingy Eden Prairie defense to get her scoring chances.
It is not often a team that loses gets two players in the three stars, but this is an exception, because Chancellor was superb. Not only did she score three times, but along with Sutton, created havoc for Eden Prairie. When Sutton was getting double teamed, Chancellor did more than just step up and help. She produced and now has 19 goals this season.