By Rob LaPlante
Crow River News Sports
Twice in two games the home team had to rally from a 4-0 deficit to win a Section 8 girls’ lacrosse home playoff game.
St. Michael-Albertville kicked off its first ever section playoff game on May 29 at Community Ed Field against a team sitting in the same shoes. Delano is also a first-year program and after the team’s split the season series, one team would ultimately get the final say with a chance to end the other’s season.
The Tigers jumped to an early 4-0 advantage, forcing STMA head coach Jill Anderson into taking her timeout just five minutes into the contest. Anderson spent the better part of 30 seconds giving her team an ear full.
“They were winning the draws because we were running in too early and the ball would go behind us,” Anderson said. “They were being patient enough to see where the ball was going. Ground balls killed us early.”
Delano sophomore forward Aspen Hanson scored two of her five goals in the game in the opening minutes of play. But the Knights would quickly adjust after the timeout and eventually tied the score at 5-5.
Hanson and the Tigers re-gained the momentum, as her third goal of the game came prior to the first half ending giving Delano an 8-6 advantage at the break.
“They have a tough defense and the last couple times we played St. Michael, it’s been a back and forth game,” said Delano head coach Kate Youngblut. “We were lucky to get the first four scores but we just couldn’t hold them. We made some mistakes on defense.”
STMA got key second-half goals from senior Karissa Pazen, sophomore Shaye Maetzold, junior Rachel Bourget and it was junior Anne Marie Harold’s goal at the 20:05 mark giving the Knights their first lead of the game, 9-8.
Harold, Maetzold, Bourget and senior Makenzie Bebo each scored twice and Pazen led the team with three goals. Senior Carly Walters made eight saves to improve her record to 9-2.
“It was a pretty slow start,” Pazen said. “A lot of nerve racking kicked in early, but after that timeout, we knew what we were capable of and we put it on the field.”
KNIGHTS IN SEMIS
Tuesday’s Delano win meant a Section 8 semifinal matchup of a pair of teams that met in the final regular season game on May 24. Elk River – the section’s top seed – easily defeated STMA 24-12 on that day.
“That was a big loss,” said Pazen, when reflecting back on the team’s worst defeat this year. “But I think it opened a lot of our eyes and we’ve come pretty far for a first-year team.”
In the 24-12 defeat, ERZ forwards Mackenzie Perna and Emily Antony combined for 13 of the 24 Elk goals, forcing Anderson and the Knights to switch things up.
The game plan was to make sure Perna and Antony were accounted for at all times. Bebo scored two early STMA goals to help build an early 4-0 lead. But the Elks would rally thanks to Alleah Baltzer – a sophomore from Rogers – who rallied the top seed scoring five times in a 13-11 Elks victory.
“We controlled the game for the most part,” Anderson said. “But there was a 5-6 minute stretch towards the end of the first half we would like to erase. That stretch let them back in the game.”
With both team’s exchanging second-half goals, it was Baltzer who scored four key goals late, including the eventual game winner to make the score 12-11. Antony put it out of reach scoring her only goal of the contest in the final minute of play.
“We did a good job of shutting their key players down,” Anderson said. “Baltzer’s five turned out to be the difference.”
Walters made 11 saves to end the season with a 9-3 record in goal. Bebo led the Knights with four goals in the losing effort.
“It was a good year,” Anderson said. “Our goal at the beginning of the year was to win one section game and we did that. We would like to be moving on, but we’re happy with our first year.”