By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
For first-year varsity programs, respect is something you have to earn.
The St. Michael-Albertville girls’ lacrosse team may not have a win to show for their first two official Minnesota State High School League games, but they may have shown at least two teams they are a team to soon be reckoned with.
The Knights made school history on April 26, when they officially solidified themselves as one of 67 MSHSL sanctioned teams when they hosted the St. Cloud Area Tigers.
The Knights came out firing on all cylinders and enjoyed a surprising 6-4 lead at the half. Once things settled down, the Tigers capitalized on some erratic turnovers and took an 8-6 lead, chasing junior goalie Sabrina Werth from the nets and inserting freshman McKenna Eggert.
“I was making the change. You could see (Werth) was getting frustrated in goal,” said STMA head coach Jill Anderson. “McKenna’s a freshman and she’s been proving she can handle herself in goal and wanted to give her that opportunity. She did well, but didn’t go in goal fully padded and got a little nervous when taking a couple shots on the top of the knees.”
With the score 12-11, the Knights got the tying goal in the final minute of regulation from senior Karissa Pazen. Just when it looked like overtime was nearing, St. Cloud scored the game winner with only 20 seconds left on the clock.
Despite the loss, STMA outshot the Tigers and got goals from eight different players. Pazen, sophomore Shaye Maetzold, junior Rachel Bourget and junior Nikki Barthel each scored a pair of goals. Senior’s Halie Gudmonson and Anna Churchill, junior Heidi Prebonich and sophomore Amanda Dorholt also scored goals for the Knights.
“It was a good game,” Pazen said. “We’ve been practicing from an activity center to an ice arena. This was our first game out on the field and we lost by one. It was a big adrenaline rush to end the game, but I’m proud of the team.”
Knights drop another thriller
After last Friday’s thrilling defeat, the Knights hosted Mound-Westonka on Monday, only to lose in another heartbreaker, 11-10.
Senior Carly Walters returned in goal after missing the opening game due to a college visit. STMA and Mound-Westonka exchanged first-half blows and the score after 25 minutes was tied 6-6.
STMA scored on its first possession of the second half to take a 7-6 lead, but moments later the White Hawks tied the score again. The Knights had a golden opportunity leading 9-7 to take a three-goal cushion. With a man advantage for two minutes, STMA allowed a shorthanded goal and would later give up another shorthanded goal that eventually gave the Hawks an 11-10 lead.
STMA had several looks in the final minute of play but never could find the equalizer.
“We need a bull horn so they can hear me,” Anderson said. “We only had 18 seconds left and we needed a shot. We obviously don’t have the time up on the board otherwise they would have seen we only had 18 seconds to get a shot off.”
Even though the Knights started the season 0-2 with a pair of home losses, Anderson said the losses can still be looked at as morale victories.
“I don’t think people expect a whole lot of us as a first-year sanctioned team,” Anderson said. “We’ve been going in to the halves with leads and then we’re dying off a little bit. We just need to focus a little more in the second half and be a little more patient on offense.”
Bourget, Maetzold, Harold and senior Makenzie Bebo each scored a pair of goals in the loss.
STMA travels to Buffalo this Thursday for a 6:30 p.m. tilt.