Max Johnson of Lakeville North.
Why Prior Lake will win: Proven team fought its way out of tough Section 6, smooth in transition and strong 6-on-6. Carter Collins (five goals) and Ben Ward (four) lead the Lakers in state tournament scoring. Matt Denman has posted five assists. Defensively, the Lakers posted a rare shutout in blanking Blake 12-0 in the quarterfinals.
Why Lakeville North will win: Big and strong and experienced. The Panthers are solid on ground balls, which leads to an advantage in possession. Alec Jensen, Calvin Dahl, Max Johnson and Luke Spanier have each scored at least four goals in the state tournament. And Luke Anderson remains a threat in the midfield.
Key to watch: Prior Lake senior Jack Dessler missed the Lakers’ 9-6 loss to Lakeville North during the regular season. Dessler, considered the state’s top faceoff specialist and committed to play lacrosse at Division II Colorado Mesa, will battle the Panthers’ Johnson. “I’m going to have to practice my butt off and hopefully I’ll win against him,” said Johnson, who will play Division I hockey at Bowling Green.
Did you know?: Each team makes its first championship game appearance. Prior Lake is playing in its first state tournament while Lakeville North fell in the semifinals the past two seasons.
DAVID LA VAQUE