So it’s not Packers/Vikings or Gophers/Badgers. However, from the perspective of the local girls’ lacrosse landscape, among the roughly 460 scheduled regular-season games, one stands out above the rest.
What has become the annual girls’ lacrosse game of the year takes place Friday when No. 1-ranked Blake travels to No. 2 Eden Prairie. Blake has won the past five state championships, beating Eden Prairie in the finals four times. In the eight years (before this season) that the Minnesota State High School League has sanctioned girls lacrosse, Blake has played in the championship game each season, winning six championships. Eden Prairie has been in seven of those eight finals, winning two and finishing as runner-up five times.
The rivalry is fueled by familiarity. The rosters of the Minnesota Elite club program, one of the most successful girls’ club teams in the state, are dotted with players from both teams. Even the head coaches — Judy Baxter of Eden Prairie and Linda Hokr of Blake — coach together at Minnesota Elite.
“It’s always a great game when we play them,” Blake attacker Olivia Nolan said earlier this year. “We know each other so well. It’s a great rivalry.”
Each team has one loss on the season, but even that is more a testament to their strength rather than a sign of potential weakness. Both lost to one of the top two teams in Illinois (according to www.laxpower.com): Blake to No. 2 Winnetka (Ill.) New Trier 8-6 in early May and Eden Prairie to No. 1 Loyola Academy 20-9 Saturday.
Game time is 5:30 p.m.
Elsewhere this week:
Tuesday: Minnehaha Academy at Visitation, 4:30 p.m. The former Tri-Metro Conference rivals meet for the first time this season in the winners’ bracket of the Section 4, 2A playoffs. A duel between two of the metro’s top pitchers — Kierstin Anderson-Glass of Visitation and Megan Thurow of Minnehaha Academy —is expected.
Tuesday: Columbia Heights vs. New Life Academy (at Bielenberg Fields), 4 p.m. New Life Academy, the top seed in Section 4, 1A, is aiming for its 10th consecutive section championship, but the Hylanders’ offense is coming around, providing more support for pitcher Quincy Gross.
State meet: Thursday and Friday, at U of M Aquatic Center. Some of the most highly conditioned athletes found at the high school level — try holding your breath for up to a minute while treading water and performing an aquatic dance route — get their time in the spotlight. Wayzata has won the past seven state titles and is favored to win its eighth in a row. The meet is scheduled to begin at 8 a.m. each day.