It took nearly a full half, but the Eden Prairie girls’ lacrosse team’s high-powered offense woke up when it needed to. The Eagles overcame an early deficit to win their second consecutive state championship, defeating Blake 11-9 Saturday at Chanhassen High School.
Blake dominated early, taking a 6-0 lead behind sophomore Emma Burke’s and senior Annie Lyman’s playmaking. But the Eagles (18-1) made a few adjustments on defense and held the Bears (16-3) to only three goals the rest of the way.
“Not many teams can spot another team, a good team, six goals in the first half and come back,” said Judy Baxter, Eden Prairie’s co-head coach. “Our defense won this game. … We relied on our defense in the end.”
Naomi Rogge and Sara Woodring jump-started the Eagles’ comeback. Woodring, a senior forward, was a willing distributor and tallied five assists. She also scored two goals, giving her a game-high seven point.
Woodring said emphasizing communication helped the Eagles defense step up in the second half.
“Our defense was starting to talk more in the second half,” she said. “I think everything just came together really well and everyone was doing what they needed to do.”
Eden Prairie also focused on stopping Lyman and Emily Johnsrud. Johnsrud, a junior forward, led Blake in scoring this season. Those adjustments were key to the Eagles’ comeback.
“We face-guarded their two best players,” Baxter said. “Annie Lyman is a fabulous player, and [the draws] were going right into her stick. She was finding a way. … We kept making adjustments and eventually we got it to come away.”
Eden Prairie took its first lead of the contest at 9-8 with a Sammie Morton goal early in the second half. The Eagles scored two more goals in a row, from freshman midfielder Brooke Lewis and Rogge.
Blake tried to close the gap but lost critical draws and was stymied by Eden Prairie goaltender Emilie Bloyer, a freshman who made nine saves.
“I think it was just as simple as we weren’t winning the draws,” Blake coach Sarah Fellows said. “We knew that winning the draws was going to be absolutely key.”
Blake won five consecutive state titles from 2010 to ’14, until Eden Prairie won last season. With a sizable 6-0 advantage early, it looked as if Blake was going to get back on top this season. But Eden Prairie adjusted and eventually found a way.
“We could have lost this game today, but the girls had the character and the never-say-die attitude and they just kept working and working and working,” Baxter said. “Even though they fell behind, they never lost sight of what they were here to do.”