The Eden Prairie girls lacrosse team returned from its annual trip to the Chicago area with a typical result: The Eagles lost to Loyola Academy, the defending Illinois girls’ state champion, 10-5.
But the result is not measured in wins and losses. Eden Prairie has yet to win a game on its yearly excursion. The intent is to expose the Eagles to a higher level of play than they can experience in Minnesota, where lacrosse is still in its infancy.
“A game like that challenges us a lot,” said junior goalkeeper Asil Asfour, who made 19 saves in the game. “It feels good to play a team like that. Their level of play is like nothing we can see in Minnesota.”
Eden Prairie has made every Minnesota State High School League state tournament since 2007 and has two state championships under co-coaches Judy Baxter and Beth Patterson. But the Eagles haven’t won a state championship since 2009. They finished as runners-up to Blake for three consecutive years from 2010 through 2012 before a third-place finish last year.
Whether they like it or not, Blake, which is again ranked No. 1 by the coaches association (Eden Prairie is No. 2), has become the Eagles’ Great White Whale.
“We know Blake is out there, but we’ve decided this year not to worry about them. We’re just focused on preparing for each game and improving game-by-game,” said Asfour, a first-year varsity starter who has impressed many with her poise and skill set replacing now-graduated all-state keeper MacKenzie Johnson. “We know people talk about Blake, and we know they’re tough, but this year we want it to be just another game.”
Eden Prairie (6-1) plays at undefeated Blake in the regular season finale for both teams May 23.
• Bloomington Jefferson won the Eastview Great 8 softball tournament last weekend, defeating Minnetonka and Hopkins in the first two rounds before beating host Eastview 4-3 in the championship game. Linnea Carlyle had two hits and pitched two scoreless inning in relief to earn the save for Jefferson in the finals.
• Benilde-St. Margaret’s baseball coach Greg Hoemke won his 100th victory at the school in an 11-0 victory over Columbia Heights on Thursday. The Red Knights have won their first 11 games, the best start in Hoemke’s tenure.