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Prior Lake girls atop the Way-Too-Early Top-10 rankings for 2020

By Trevor Squire, SportsEngine, 07/01/19, 5:30PM CDT

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The Lakers, who also landed at No. 1 on last year's list, look poised to defend their title in 2020.

The Prior Lake girls overpowered Eden Prairie 17-12 to win the 2019 state championship. We think the Lakers will have enough firepower to repeat in 2020. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine

The Prior Lake girls overpowered Eden Prairie 17-12 to win the 2019 state championship. We think the Lakers will have enough firepower to repeat in 2020. Photo by Korey McDermott, SportsEngine

As the calendar flips to July and summer barbecues are underway, many will take time off from prep sports — but not us. We're already eager for next spring, so we present our second annual installment of the girls' lacrosse Way-Too-Early Top-10 rankings.

This year, Prior Lake became the fourth team to win a state tournament crown in Minnesota State High School League history, highlighting a new era of parity has dawned on the game. The Lakers will aim to shake that notion by repeating, and they look to have all the tools to do so, but a field of capable challengers will be eager to take their best shot at dethroning the defending champions.

Given there's still nine months from the first day of practice, and knowing many things will change before the next spring arrives, we've assembled this list assuming every non-senior will be returning to their respective teams.

Think we got it wrong? Feel free to comment below and share your opinions on the forthcoming 2020 season.

Way-Too-Early Top 10

1. Prior Lake

Key Losses: Ashtyn King, Reagan DahlLauren Wick, Kelsey Viger, Grace Mattox

The Lakers avenged a 10-8 regular-season loss to longtime juggernaut Eden Prairie in the state title game on June 15, upending the Eagles 17-12 to claim the program’s first state crown. Topping our Way-Too-Early Top 10 rankings for a second consecutive year, Prior Lake looks poised to defend its title next year.

Josie Kropp, a junior midfielder, played a crucial role for the Lakers in the state championship game, winning 11 of 13 faceoffs in the second half and 16 of 23 overall. Payton Bloedow returns after totaling six goals and three assists in the state championship game. She’ll look to improve upon a 38-goal, 10-assist sophomore campaign with a veteran Prior Lake attack that returns a dynamic trio in Bloedow, Kropp (30-20-50) and Mackenzie Salentre (30-11-41). 

Prior Lake will have to replace first-team all-state defender Kelsey Viger and Jake Anderson Ms. Goalie Award winner Grace Mattox, but for a program that’s continuing to establish its legacy, there should be plenty of able candidates to help the Lakers maintain their resolute defense.

2. Eden Prairie

Key Losses: Kacie RiggsCJ FroemmingAbby JohnsonBrooke LewisEmilie BloyerReese Hugdahl

Next year looks to be a bit of a rebuilding season for Eden Prairie but don't count the Eagles out given the pedigree the program.

The Eagles graduated Ms. Lacrosse Award winner Kacie Riggs and four other top scorers this spring. They'll need new runners to emerge quickly to replenish the offense after losing 67 percent of its 2019 regular-season scoring production. Maggie Brown and Josie Lillquist, who combined for 63 goals this past regular season, will likely lead the team offensively next season.

Losing Emilie Bloyer, a four-year starter in goal, and first-team all-state defender Reese Hugdahl will test an Eagles defense that'll need to jell quickly if they are to return to the state title game.

3. Chanhassen

Key Losses: Grace DoerringLivie SaatzerMaia HodginsShea Kerry

Chanhassen returns its top four runners in 2020 after a 14-win season ended in a 14-9 loss to Eden Prairie in the Section 2 championship game this spring. Both of the Storm's losses in 2019 came against the Eagles.

Replacing two all-state defenders in Maia Hodgins and Shea Kerry will take priority as Elle Wagner, Sydnie Soto, Leah Hodgins and Taylor Jones will reclaim their offensive reigns. The group scored 58 percent of Chanhassen’s regular-season goals this past season.

4. Lakeville North

Key Losses: Kathryn Kossack

Lakeville North has the potential to take a leap forward after making back-to-back appearances in the state tournament third-place game. This year, the Panthers beat Breck 13-12 to claim the third-place title with a cast that graduated just one senior.

First-team all-state selection Olivia Mattis was one of the metro’s top midfielders this spring and she projects to lead an eight-player senior class in 2020. She's joined by Chloe Fisher who scored 26 goals this past season. 

5. Stillwater

Key Losses: Sami Chang, Tara Naugle

Stillwater's losses this offseason are minimized as the Ponies look to return key leaders at every position next year. First-team all-state honoree Meredith Parry (49-13-62) led the Ponies offensively this past season and is backed by Annie McGuire (40-11-51). 

Grace Lilla earned all-state honorable mention recognition and should help fill the void as the Ponies' go-to defender after the graduation of Sami Chang. 

6. Breck

Key Losses: Eloise CherianPolly BurnsNatalie OttDeirdre O'Neill

The loss of four senior captains, including leading scorer Eloise Cheridan, leaves Breck seeking new leadership after breaking through to make its first state tournament by ousting longtime state power Blake 15-11 in the Section 5 final on June 5. The Mustangs took fourth place at the state tournament, losing 13-12 in overtime to Lakeville North on June 15.  

Elinor Applebaum, a sophomore midfielder who had 23 goals last season, earned second-team all-state accolades and will likely be the Mustangs' ace runner next season. Taylor Nelson was an all-state honorable mention defender and will be leaned on to lock down opposing runners.

7. Blake

Key Losses: None

Fielding a team with all but one underclassmen last spring, the Bears missed their first state tournament in program history with a 7-8 overall record, falling to Independent Metro Athletic Conference rival Breck in the Section 5 title game. Count on Blake to use that defeat as motivation next spring as the Bears look to reassert their dominance.

All-state honorable mention recipients Catherine Barry (20-2-22) and Brooke Lee, a stout defender, are expected to return as leaders of a 12-player junior class.

8. Maple Grove

Key Losses: Emily Herdine

Maple Grove made a fourth straight state tournament appearance this June behind a roster that included just two seniors. In 2020, all-state honorable mention recipients Chloe Corbin and Grace Hanson will anchor Maple Grove at midfield and defense, respectively.

9. Minnehaha Academy

Key Losses: Grace Nickoloff, Marissa Agerter

Minnehaha Academy notched wins over Blake and Stillwater this spring but couldn’t break through to the state tournament, losing 10-9 on June 5 to Section 3 champion Cretin-Derham Hall. The Redhawks lost three runners to graduation but they'll return four of five double-digit scorers from last spring.

Soon-to-be sophomore Claire Nelson was the Redhawks' most lethal weapon, tallying 42 goals and 26 assists in the 2019 regular season, good for fourth-most assists in the state.

10. Forest Lake

Key Losses: None

Forest Lake, which made its first state tournament this year, surprised many lacrosse fans and could turn more heads next year after losing just three players to graduation.

The Rangers are led by Taylor Glumack (31-9-40), Bailey O'Donovan (24-13-37) and Brooke Glumack (21-16-37), who all notched 37 or more regular-season points in 2019. 

Just missed the cut:

Minnetonka, Bloomington Jefferson, Hutchinson, Edina

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