Photo by SportsEngine
We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.
Prior Lake begins its quest to capture its third state championship in as many seasons, but it won’t come without its challenges. The Lakers scored almost 17 goals per game in 2021 thanks in large part to leading scorer Payton Bloedow (78 goals). With Bloedow graduated, Prior Lake will look to the likes of senior Ava Schiltz and junior Nina Winter (33 goals each last season) to take a step forward.
Prior Lake (3-0) is 21-1 dating back to last season with its only loss coming to Edina in the 2021 season opener.
After facing Benilde-St. Margaret’s on Tuesday, April 26 and Wayzata on Thursday, April 28, Blake (2-0) will be rewarded with the top-ranked team in the state to finish a difficult week. The no. 8 Bears hope to continue their defensive performance from a season ago to slow down Prior Lake, allowing 8.8 goals per game. Junior Abby Ziehl and sophomore Piper Crow split time in goal in an 18-1 victory over Holy Family with Ziehl allowing the only goal.
Blake will be looking to avenge its performances against Prior Lake last season. The Lakers swept the season series against the Bears last year, winning the first matchup 9-6 followed by a dominant 25-15 performance in the Section 6 semifinals.
This could be a defensive battle against two south metro teams looking to avenge difficult endings to the 2021 season. Chanhassen fell 14-13 to Eden Prairie in the section 2 title game while Lakeville South lost in the state championship to Prior Lake 15-7.
No. 5 Chanhassen continued its dominant defense from last season in the 2022 season opener in a 19-0 victory over Waconia. In 2021, the Storm allowed only 96 goals and allowed five goals or fewer in nine games. But it was an all-around scoring effort for Chanhassen to kick off the season. Led by sophomore Jadyn Hahn (five points), the Storm finished with six players with at least three points to beat the Wildcats.
Lakeville South also had a stifling defense last season, allowing only 6.53 goals per game last season. The no. 2 Cougars allowed eight goals in each game this season, a win against Rosemount and an incomplete result with Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
The matchup features two different goalies. Lakeville South senior Lindsay Wirfs led the state with 16 wins last season and has a .556% save percentage thus far. On the other side, Chanhassen sophomore Katie Colleran had one save on one shot in her first career start against Waconia.
Andover has had two different paths to victory in the first matchups of the season. However, junior goalie Eva Bock has been the one constant for the No. 9 Huskies. Bock has allowed only three goals in two games with one of the state’s top save percentages (.824%). Her play was crucial in the season opener, as Andover moved past Elk River/Zimmerman 4-2, but it only took one game for the Huskies to get the scoring going.
Similar to Andover, Eden Prairie had two varying results in the opening games of the season. The no. 6 Eagles suffered a close loss at Benilde-St. Margaret’s April 19 but bounced back with a dominant 19-3 at Hopkins two days later. Senior Taylor Kotschevar-Call looks to be one of the biggest tests to Bock and the Andover defense this season. The Marquette commit is not only tied for tenth in the state in goals but is also scoring efficiently, recording 10 goals on 14 shots in the two matchups this season.
The early season game could be a potential postseason matchup. Both Andover and Eden Prairie won their respective sections last season, but both fell in the first round of the state tournament.
Owatonna vs. Mankato, 5:45 p.m., Tuesday, April 26. Expect plenty of goals to be scored in this early season matchup between the top two teams from the Big 9 conference last season. Junior Annika Moran leads Owatonna (2-1) with 13 goals while Mankato (2-0) has outscored its opponents 22-7 in two games this season.
Maple Grove vs. Centennial, 7 p.m., Monday, May 2. Maple Grove (1-0) looks to defend its Northwest Suburban conference crown but will have to do so without three of its four leading scorers from 2021. Junior Ella O’Hearn leads Centennial (3-0) with 12 goals and seven assists.
The MN Lax Hub poll is only for entertainment purposes.