Eden Prairie's Emma Claire Fontenot wound up to score in the first half against The Blake School at Eden Prairie High School (Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune photo)
The top-ranked Eden Prairie girls’ lacrosse team played host to No. 2 Blake on Thursday and no speaker system resulted in a players-led version of the “Star-Spangled Banner.”
They gave a spirited effort, though at times off-key. The same could be said of the game, a 10-7 Eden Prairie victory. The Minnesota State High School League has sanctioned six girls’ lacrosse state tournaments and each time, Eden Prairie has met Blake in the title game. Top-level competition Thursday brought forth excitement while also exposing flaws.
Eden Prairie senior Emma Claire Fontenot scored five goals for the Eagles, losers of the past three state championship meetings with Blake.
“It’s something we needed as a confidence booster,” Fontenot said. “It assured that we can do it and that it is possible.”
Eden Prairie goalie McKenzie Johnson made 16 saves.
“She was unbelievable,” Fontenot said. “We thank the Lord every day for her. When she makes those saves, it amps us up to pay her back with goals on the other end.”
After spotting Eden Prairie a 3-0 lead to start, Blake fought back to score the next three goals — two from standout Lydia Sutton. But the Bears never led in the game. Goals from Jessica Lagerquist and Fontenot gave the Eagles a 5-4 halftime lead.
Then Fontenot scored the first two goals after halftime to turn a one-point edge into a 7-4 cushion.
“We knew we could never let up, but it relaxed us a little,” Fontenot said. “We used our hearts to get those goals and then let our minds do the work.”
Eagles co-head coach Judy Baxter said more work is needed between the ears, citing first-half turnovers and transition troubles.
“We’re getting stronger,” Baxter said. “We’ve started to come into our own, but we have lots of work to do.”
Sutton led Blake with four goals and sophomore Jordan Chancellor added the other three. Sutton shared Baxter’s sentiments that Thursday’s game, win or lose, was helpful to two teams with state championship aspirations.
“Playing them is a learning experience for both teams,” Sutton said. “We are teams that test each other to the fullest.”