Justin Simonson of Prior Lake (left) and Justin Dalum of Benilde-St. Margaret's. (SportsEngine photos)
6 p.m., Stillwater High School
Prior Lake (No. 3 seed, 15-2) vs. Benilde-St. Margaret’s (No. 1, 18-0)
Why Prior Lake will win: “They can shoot the lights out of the ball,” Centennial coach Jon Beach said, adding that senior attackman Justin Simonson (42 goals) “doesn’t need to have his hands free for more than a half-second and it’s in the back of the net.” After Prior Lake’s 20-7 semifinal thrashing of the Cougars, Lakers coach Casey Mithun told Beach, “We’ve never shot the ball this well all season.”
Why Benilde-St. Margaret’s will win: “I would say they maybe hang their hat on their defenders and their goalie a little bit more,” Stillwater coach Peter Flock said. And why not? The Red Knights boast three All-America selections on the defensive side of the field in goalie Justin Dalum, defender Sam Pikul and long-stick midfielder Caio Stephens. Benilde-St. Margaret’s allows 3.4 goals per game, fewest in the state.
Key to the game: Prior Lake’s offense is peaking while Benilde-St. Margaret’s vaunted defense allowed a season-high 10 goals in the state tournament semifinals. Which style prevails? “If Prior Lake’s offense gets hot, it might be a long day for Benilde,” Flock said.
Worth knowing: Saturday’s championship game marks the fourth consecutive season where it all comes down to the Lakers and Red Knights. Prior Lake took the first two, and Benilde-St. Margaret’s got the most recent one. No program can match Benilde’s eight title game appearances.