Girls lacrosse: History in the makingFormer teammates were foes as the Park and East Ridge/Woodbury girls lacrosse teams faced off for the second time in history last week.
By: Patrick Johnson, Staff Writer, South Washington County Bulletin
Former teammates were foes as the Park and East Ridge/Woodbury girls lacrosse teams faced off for the second time in history last week.
Park held on to bragging rights after a 14-7 Suburban East Conference win over the Griffins (5-5; 1-4 SEC) on Wednesday, May 11, at Woodbury High School.
For three years, District 833 had one cooperative girls lacrosse team named South Washington County, which was made up of girls from Park and Woodbury.
However, with the addition of East Ridge, and the growing number of players in the program, the cooperative was split two winters ago.
Last year, Park came out on top, 15-9, at Wolfpack Stadium in the two teams’ first-ever meeting.
In this year’s game, Park (5-6; 3-3 SEC) took a 9-2 lead into the halftime — which was the difference — and the two teams played to a 5-5 second half.
“We had a lot of distractions, but we played a good game,” East Ridge/Woodbury head coach Kara Midura said. “We played a really good second half. Park had a very good defense and it was a little unexpected. I think we figured out how to maintain possession of the ball a little better in the second half, which is a key to the game.”
Park’s leading scorer, junior Allie Thalhuber, didn’t take it easy on her former mates, racking up a game-high six goals in the Wolfpack’s win. Thalhaber, a midfielder, is tied for fifth in the state for goals with 43 in 11 games.
“She doesn’t take it easy on anybody,” Park co-head coach Kyle Kane said. “She had a great game. But a lot of girls scored. As an offensive coach that makes me happy. A lot of teams have one girl that does a lot of scoring, and we do have that in Allie, it’s nice to know we have other girls that can go to the net and get the job done when they need to.”
In all, seven players scored for Park in the game. Junior Karisa Land and sophomore Alicia Wagenman each scored twice and junior Erica Weidner, eighth-grader Bailey Aasen, senior Natalie Arcand and freshman Madison Nelson each tallied one goal for the Wolfpack.
“It’s nice to see those ninth and 10th graders stepping up too, and helping out at the varsity level,” Kane said. “That helps coach Leonard and I be optimistic about the future.”
In goal, Park junior goalie Allie Morse made 20 saves on 27 shots for the win. Morse is currently ranked fourth in the state for goalie save percentage at 65 percent.
“She has been playing great this year,” Kane said. “She’s been doing very well. We were also very happy with the defense. It’s been getting better and better as the season goes on. That’s kind of how we operate I guess. Toward the end of the season our fundamentals tighten up and the girls start to really gel. We’re hoping to do that again this year as we head into playoffs.”
For East Ridge/Woodbury, senior Sophia Bainbridge led the way with three goals and senior Jackie Hegg battled through a foot injury and scored one goal. Additionally, junior Ari Guanella, freshman Ella Frazer and sophomore Blair Fanning each netted one goal for the Griffins. In the net, eighth grader Cara Kaufer stopped nine of the Wolfpack’s 23 shots on goal.
The game was East Ridge/Woodbury’s Senior Night and the teams honored the Griffins’ six seniors — Hegg, Elizabeth Straub, Katie Schulte, Bainbridge, Ashley Hohenstein and Erin Driscoll — before the opening draw.
“I think it was fairly emotional for a some of the girls, especially,” Midura said. “For girls like Jackie Hegg and Elizabeth Straub have been playing lacrosse here for six years. This is a big deal to them because they’ve been playing for the program so long. Playing Park was a big deal, too. It was a big night for them.”
Before their head-to-head game both District 833 teams earned lopsided SEC wins — Park beat White Bear Lake 16-8 and East Ridge/Woodbury took down Forest Lake 17-8 on Monday, May 9.
In Park’s win over White Bear Lake, eight different players scored for the Wolfpack. Thalhuber led the way with five goals, Weidner scored three goals, Arcand and Aasen each netted two goals and Land, senior Taylor Durden, junior Ann Marie Lane, and sophomore Katie Kershaw each had one goal. Additionally, Lane, Durden, Kaitlyn Cornwell and Rochelle Braun each had assists and Morse made 19 saves on 27 shots. It was the first varsity goals for Aasen and Kershaw, who each played minutes at attack.
In its past three games, Park has racked up 49 goals, while allowing just 21, going 3-0.
“The girls are liking the direction we’re going and coach Leonard and I are happy with the progress we’ve made,” Kane said. “We’re passing the ball much better, we’re making fewer dumb mistakes, we’re going after ground balls harder and putting more goals in the net. Part of that is that we’ve had a little lighter schedule the last couple of weeks than at the start of the year, but the girls can play with whomever they want to. We really believe that. We’re not counting ourselves out of a section run.”
Prior to falling to Park, East Ridge/Woodbury earned its first conference win of the year, over Forest Lake.
In the game, freshman attacker Jess Hammer had three goals and three assists to lead the Griffins’ offense. Also, Schulte netted a pair of goals and added and assist, freshman Maya Schulte scored two goals and added two assists, Hegg had three goals and Bainbridge netted two goals. Additionally, Liz Sampson and Michelle Bailey each scored two goals, Guanella had one goal, and Kaufer stopped 12 of the Rangers’ 20 shots on goal.
“We’ve kind of switched our offense up a little after playing Park,” Midura said. “We’ll be focusing on that a lot this week.”
The Griffins took on Stillwater and Park faced off with Cretin-Derham Hall on Monday, May 16, after the Bulletin went to press. Park also capped its regular season with a non-conference game in Farmington on Tuesday. East Ridge/Woodbury battles Roseville in the regular-season finale on Wednesday, May 18.
Each team will put the regular season behind them when they begin the playoffs with a clean slate.