Blake strikes a familiar pose after winning its fourth straight girls' state championship with a 14-12 triumph over Lakeville North. Photo by Brian Nelson
With less than 4 minutes to play in Blake’s fourth straight state championship win, the powerhouse Bears saw their lead evaporate. A six-goal buffer seemed safe enough in the first half, but a run by Lakeville North brought the Panthers within two. At this point, most teams would start to sweat.
That’s just not the Bears’ style.
Instead, Blake coach Laura Mark just kept reminding her players of their simple checklist to success.
“Wait. Composure. Hold the ball. Let them come to you. The clock is your friend,” she said.
If there’s ever a team that acts like its been there before, it’s the Bears. It was evident near the end of their 14-12 win on Saturday, June 15 at Chanhassen High School, when they held the ball for nearly three minutes to drain the clock. Blake tossed the ball around from player to player, waiting with the ball until the last second before dishing to a teammate. Once a double-team came, the ball moved, and the Bears kept possession.
Big gun Lydia Sutton held it herself for at least 2 minutes at one point in the second half, running from one side of the net to the other and staring down defenders before making the goalie come as a second defender to force a pass. Junior Anne Slussler also kept the ball within an arm’s length of opposing players as time dwindled.
“I was surprised how calm everyone was,” sophomore Jordan Chancellor said. “Our team really kept it together really well, and we just thought ‘we need to keep the ball in our control so they don’t gain control’ and I thought we did a really good job of keeping it all cool and collected.”
To earn the luxury of letting the clock tick, the Bears first had to gain a lead, and it turns out they’re cold and calculating when actually trying to score, too. Right from the opening draw, it was clear that the Bears hadn’t underestimated their opponent, even if Lakeville North wasn’t the Eden Prairie team that they were expecting and had played against in the last six championship games.
“A team like Lakeville North that can score a goal in five seconds, you have to build a lead, so that was very important to us,” Mark said. “You can’t underestimate anybody, and if you do it’s your mistake. We definitely talked about making sure taking into account our earlier game which was a little bit lopsided.”
Sutton took care of any worries Mark had about starting slow. She netted Blake’s first three goals within the first 5 minutes and her first came just 32 seconds in.
“I usually like to start off the game with a couple of goals, I usually don’t end it with goals, but I think it helps set the tone for the game in general,” Sutton said. The junior finished with a game-high five points (four goals, one assist).
That was the easy part. The rest was a display of the veteran’s experience in high-pressure situations.
“It’s hard, I’m not really a patient person, especially in lacrosse I’d rather pass the ball off or go to goal or something. Being patient, waiting for the right play, waiting for the right moment to get the ball off and kind of let our attack settle.”
When the Bears did eventually hoist their fourth straight championship trophy, there was excitement, but not over-the-top jubilation. It was the final presentation that Blake had expected to win.
“Winning four in a row is an amazing feeling and it feels great being able to keep that alive for Blake,” Chancellor said.
-- Walker Orenstein
Blake's Olivia Nolan tries to squeeze between Lakeville North goaltender Alyssa Friesen (32) and Panthers' defenseman Molly McHugh. Photo by Loren Nelson
Blake freshman Annie Lyman took three shots and made them all to score three goals in the state final. Photo by Brian Nelson
Lydia Sutton and Jordan Chancellor each scored four goals, and Annie Lyman had three as Blake beat Lakeville North 14-12 on Saturday, June 15, in the state girls’ championship at Chanhassen High School.
The state title was the fourth straight for the Bears, who have won five championships in the seven years the Minnnesota State High School League has sponsored a state tournament.
Sutton, a junior who has committed to play at Southern California, scored the first three goals for Blake – all in the opening 5 minutes – as the Bears raced to a 3-1 lead.
Chancellor, a sophomore, scored two of her goals in the late stages of the first half as Blake (16-3) built its lead to as much as 9-2.
Senior Hannah Koloski scored twice in the final minutes of the first half as Lakeville North rallied to pull within 10-5.
Lakeville North (14-5) outscored Blake 7-4 in the second half behind two goals from junior Kacie Waagbo but could never cut Blake's lead to less than the final margin of two goals.
Makayla Kubisiak scored the final Panthers’ goal with 3 minutes, 55 seconds remaining, but Blake possessed the ball – passing up open shots at an empty net – for all but the final few seconds as it ran out the clock.
Koloski and junior Emmie Madsen each finished with three goals for Lakeville North, which reached the championship game by beating Eden Prairie in overtime in the semifinals in the biggest upset in state girls’ lacrosse history.
-- Loren Nelson
1. Lydia Sutton, Blake
The Bears’ biggest star stepped up right away, scoring the first three goals for the Bears -- all within five minutes of the opening draw. She then switched to a more secondary role, controlling the offense and dishing assists. The junior finished with four goals and an assist to give her 12 points (11 goals, one assist) in the state tournament.
2. Anne Slusser, Blake
Slusser sliced through defenders with pinpoint passing and had a stockpile of scoring chances. After Sutton’s burst of early scoring, Slusser, a junior, picked up the slack for the Bears, creating lots of offense with her passing and her cuts. Her three assists and a goal give her 12 points in the state tournament (four goals, eight assists).
3. Hannah Koloski, Lakeville North
Koloski kept the Panthers in the game in the first half and had a big second-half goal when Lakeville North made its comeback run. She was selected to the all-tournament squad as a midfielder, one of two Panthers' selections. The senior’s four points (three goals, one assist) were tied for the team lead with Emmie Madsen.
-- Walker Orenstein
Lakeville North's Hannah Koloski scored three goals for the panthers in the title game. Photo by Brian Nelson
|Marjorie McNamara||Midfield||Champlin Park|
|Anna Johnson||Midfield||Eden Prairie|
|Mari Verbeten||Midfield||Robbinsdale Armstrong|
|Hannah Koloski||Midfield||Lakeville North|
|Kacie Waagbo||Forward||Lakeville North|