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Blake's Annie Lyman scored 37 goals last season as a freshman. Photo by Brian Nelson

Robbinsdale Armstrong seemingly came out of nowhere to plant itself among the state's elite level teams last year, posting an 11-1 regular season record, breezing through its three Section 5 playoff games by a combined score of 40-15 and winning the state tournament's consolation championship.

Both of the Falcons' losses last season came against eventual state champion Blake, and the Falcons square off against the four-time defending state champion Bears on Tuesday in an intriguing early season matchup.

Playing Blake is always the ultimate gauge in just where a program stacks up agains the best the state has to offer, and Armstrong does have the luxury of returning 11 of 12 starters -- including superstar senior midfielder Mari Verbeten -- from last year's squad.

Blake, however, might just have its best team ever. Senior Lydia Sutton, the 2013 coaches' Player of the Year and Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year, is all but a lock to win the Ms. Lacrosse award, and Anne Slusser is as good a defender as there is in the state.

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