By STUART GROSKREUTZ
MAHTOMEDI – A four-goal surge late in the first half helped carry the Stillwater girls’ lacrosse team to a 17-10 victory over Champlin Park in the Section 4 semifinals on Tuesday at Mahtomedi High School.
The Ponies (13-2), who are seeking their second straight trip to state, will face Mahtomedi in the finals on Thursday at Osseo High School. The Zephyrs, who lost to Stillwater 15-5 on May 4, defeated White Bear Lake 20-14 in the other semifinal on Tuesday.
"We’re excited to be back in the section finals and looking forward to playing Mahtomedi again," Stillwater coach Rick Reidt said. "We played them in the section semifinals last year and it was not an easy game for us at all so we’re going to have to work very hard to get back to the state tournament. When we played Mahtomedi earlier this year it was one of our better games of the year and we know we’ll have to play just as well or even better on Thursday."
Emma Wiessner led the scoring attack for the Ponies with five goals, including a tally with just seven seconds remaining in the first half for a 9-5 lead. The Rebels scored twice with about five minutes remaining to tie the game at 5-all, but Stillwater answered with a 4-0 run to end the first half and scored four in a row to start the second half to build a 13-5 lead.
"The first half was really back and forth and then we were able to break it open at the end of the first half," Reidt said. "Champlin Park was one of the better teams we’ve played this year and has some really strong players so it was a good challenge for us."
Remi Larson finished with four goals for Stillwater, including two in the first two minutes of the second half to carry that momentum out of the intermission. Dana Almquist provided three goals for the Ponies while Katie Casto and Kate Sheely chipped in with two apiece.
"They did a good job of stopping Almquist in the first half, but Wiessner and Larson and Casto can score just as well as anybody on our team and it’s a matter of finding the open players," Reidt said. "I think we’re really starting to gel as n offense.
"I thought our midfield defense was great and Kate Sheely did a great job in the center draw. Overall, we had great team play up and down the field. Our mids are really well conditioned and they played hard. Casto just played her guts out and Wiessner did, too. We also had good goalie play when we needed it."
Goals – St, Emma Wiessner 5, Remi Larson 4, Dana Almquist 3, Katie Casto 2, Kate Sheely 2 and Jennifer Jorgensen.
Assists – St, Sheely 2, Casto, Maggie Corman, Wiessner and Larson.
Saves – St, Marie Bonine 7.
Anoka 11, Hill-Murray 10
Champlin Park 14, Forest Lake 4
Mounds View 13, Irondale 3
Mahtomedi 20, Spring Lake Park 6
Centennial 13, Totino-Grace 12
White Bear Lake 14, Blaine 7
Coon Rapids 20, Andover 4
Stillwater 21, Anoka 4
Champlin Park vs. Mounds View
Mahtomedi 24, Centennial 13
Coon Rapids vs. White Bear Lake
Stillwater 17, Champlin Park 10
Mahtomedi 20, White Bear Lake 14
#1 Stillwater vs. #3 Mahtomedi at Osseo, 7 p.m.