by Jack Bluhm- Sun Newspapers intern
The Champlin Park girls lacrosse team looked to secure the section 7 title and a trip to the state tournament on June 7, but the number one seed Blaine Bengals stood in their path.
The Rebels had comfortably won their first two section tournament games beating Andover 13-3 on June 1 and Centennial 13-3 on June 5. However, the championship game would be a tough test for the Rebels as they needed to beat a Blaine team with an overall record of 14-1 and who they already lost to 11-10 in overtime earlier in the season.
“They are a tough team and our game plan was to just go out and play our game and have more of a high tempo offense,” Champlin Park head girls lacrosse coach Kelsey McCann said. “We knew they were going to face guard Sam [Nolan] and Tara [Dalman] and so we just needed some other girls to step up.”
The number three seeded Rebels started off the game by giving up a goal just 30 seconds after the beginning whistle had blown, but they were able to shake off the rough start and got to playing their game.
Champlin Park went on to score four unanswered goals, taking a 4-1 lead with 7:30 to go in the first half. Scoring two of the goals was sophomore Josie Johnson with junior Allie Kelley and senior Tara Dalman each adding a goal to help the Rebels jump out to an early lead. With just seconds remaining on the clock before halftime, senior Sam Nolan was able to put one in the back of the net and gave the Rebels a 5-2 lead, along with all the momentum, as the teams broke for the half.
That momentum was short lived however, as the second half was a completely different story for Champlin Park.
Blaine came roaring out of the second half scoring three straight goals to even the game at 5-5. The Rebels ended the Blaine scoring run with a goal from junior Lauren Witt, but the Bengals were able to put together another run, this time scoring four straight goals while being a player down, and Champlin Park was down 9-6 with 6:50 remaining in their season.
“All year we’ve kind of struggled with our second half and we knew that was going to be a challenge coming in,” McCann said. “The last part of that second half [Blaine] came back and fought hard for it. We just came up on the short end of the stick.”
Champlin Park, despite their best effort, was not able to complete the comeback and their season would come to an end with a final score of 10-8. Sophomore Makenzie Baker and Witt, with her second goal of the game, scored the last two goals for the Rebels.
Even though the Rebels were not able to move on and continue with their season, there were still accomplishments to hold their heads high about.
“Most importantly we grew as a team and each individual out there gave 100 percent,” McCann said. “Each girl has grown individually and hopefully next year we come out strong.
“I’m looking for that sophomore and junior class to really step it up in the off season and I think good things are to come. We also have a very young freshman class coming in that has a lot of talent in there as well.”
For McCann and the six seniors apart of the team, this season was a special one.
“I have a special connection with the seniors since I started off coaching them as eighth graders,” McCann said. “They’re the last to come through with me from B-squad to JV to varsity and so they definitely hold a special part and they’ve only had me as a coach, so it will be good for them moving on in life to have someone else as a mentor as well.”
Contact Jack Bluhm at [email protected]