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Park-Woodbury girls lacrosse: Totino-Grace edges 'Royal Pack' in opener

Park junior Kelby Land was one of five Royal Pack players to score in the girls lacrosse team's season opener.

A first game win for the Park-Woodbury girls lacrosse team would have been sweet against any opponent. However, a win in this year's opener would have been even sweeter because it would have meant a victory over perennial powerhouse Totino-Grace -- the team that knocked the Royal Pack out of the playoffs last season.

But, although Park-Woodbury was up 3-1 early, the Eagles escaped Wolfpack Stadium with a 7-5 win on Wednesday, April 8 in game No. 1.

Despite losing a grip on the early lead, Park-Woodbury co-head coach Scott Leonard was pleased with his team's effort.

"For us, just to be in that game with them was very good," Leonard said. "We're getting close. We feel like we're doing things the right way. The girls are listening and they're improving."

Things couldn't have started much better for Park-Woodbury in the game, as junior forward Kelby Land took the opening face-off and scored just 10 seconds in.

However, Totino-Grace battled back to take a 4-3 halftime lead. Then, with only 5:55 remaining in the game, the Eagles scored three goals in a span of just over two minutes to blow the game open, taking a 7-3 lead.

The Royal Pack didn't quit, however, scoring twice in the final minute to cut the deficit to 7-5 with 15 seconds remaining in the game.

Unfortunately for Park-Woodbury, too much damage had already done.

"It was just that two minute stretch that really hurt us," Leonard said. "But, that's one thing about our girls -- they never quit. They'll play right down to the wire."

Five different players scored for the Royal Pack in the game -- Land, a forward, along with junior midfielder Holly Frankenberg, senior defender Amanda McNeese and senior forwards Kelsie Anderson and Kayla Guanella.

Leonard was pleased to see the even scoring, especially considering the team is looking to replace 2008 Park graduate Jessica Gutierrez -- who scored 34 of the Royal Pack's 100 goals last year.

"Overall this is probably the most well-rounded team we've had," said Leonard, who is in his third year as coach. "It's not just one or two people, we feel that it's seven or eight girls that could score at any time. We're pretty balanced."

Leonard was also happy with the team's two goaltenders -- junior Tonia Kruczek and senior Melanie Currey. Kruczek played the first half of the game and Currey was in nets for the second half.

"Totino usually scores in the double digits," Leonard said. "Those two definitely did a great job."

Park-Woodbury will begin the conference season next week when it travels to Stillwater on Tuesday, April 14 to face off with the Ponies. The Royal Pack will then take on Roseville on Thursday and White Bear Lake on Saturday. Both games will be at Park High School.

According to Leonard, Stillwater and Roseville are each among the league's elite teams, and will provide the Royal Pack with a good measuring stick.

However, Leonard said the team identified some areas it needs to work on if it wants to have a chance to win against the top teams in the conference.

"We're shooting way too high and need to get our shots on the net," Leonard said. "We need to do a better job with transition defense. Those will be our two focuses this week in practice."