By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
The St. Michael-Albertville girls’ lacrosse team may have found its rival.
Both STMA and the Delano Tigers are on the verge of finishing their inaugural seasons as sanctioned members of the MSHSL girls’ lacrosse league.
As club teams, the Knights finished in second place in the league standings a year ago, while the Tigers finished in third. Delano got the last laugh ending STMA’s season in last year’s state tournament.
In their first meeting as non-club teams, it was again Delano coming out on top of a 12-10 score on May 13. But the Knights salvaged a season split with a come-from-behind 16-13 win on May 21 at Community Ed Field.
Junior Rachel Bourget scored five goals in the recent win. Senior Karissa Pazen scored four and senior Makenzie Bebo added three to spark a rally which saw the Knights blow an 8-5 halftime lead.
The Tigers came out in the second half and scored three unanswered goals in the opening two minutes forcing STMA head coach Jill Anderson to call a timeout.
“During the first half our girls were doing a great job keeping their goalie on her toes,” Anderson said. “We made a couple adjustments on defense, but I told the girls to continue to fire the ball in hard.”
Moments after the timeout, Bebo sparked a rally with a nice end-to-end rush from midfield that resulted in the first of four straight goals for the Knights. STMA led 13-11 with key goals from Bourget, Pazen and Bebo. The Knights would hold on for a 16-13 victory.
Two nights later, the Knights hosted a pesky Orono squad that came in winners of four of its last six contests.
It was a defensive battle as through 25 minutes of play, the score was deadlocked at 5-5. Much like its previous game, the script would call for a furious second half rally for the home team.
Orono took a 9-5 lead to begin second half play. STMA rallied for the second straight game to tie the score 9-9 and later would take the lead, only to see Orono rally to tie the game late.
“We made a defensive change from a zone defense to a man and the girls dug their heels in to comeback,” Anderson said.
With the score tied 11-11, Pazen made a late rush with 10 seconds on the game clock and fired a shot from the top of the fan and beat the Spartans goalie with only one tick left in regulation. It was one of three goals Pazen scored as her and Bourget each recorded the hat trick. Walters won her fourth straight game in goal to improve her record to 8-1.
In a makeup game that was supposed to be STMA’s first game of the season, the Knights and Elk River-Rogers-Zimmerman butting heads on May 24.
The Elks didn’t take long to flex their muscle in a 24-12 pounding of the Knights. Elk River (10-3) is a potential Section 8 playoff matchup as they will await the winner of Delano (5-4) versus STMA (8-4) winner played at 5:30 p.m. on May 29 at Community Ed Field.