ARDEN HILLS — The Stillwater girls’ lacrosse team overcame a sluggish start to defeat East Ridge 17-5 on Tuesday to earn its third straight trip to the state tournament.
The Ponies fell behind 2-0 early and trailed 4-3 seven minutes into the game before scoring 12 straight goals to take control in the Section 4 championship game at Mounds View High School.
“It’s really great to see everybody do so well out there and have fun,” said junior Kate Sheely, who also celebrated her 17th birthday along with a third straight section crown. “We set our goal to get to state so this is just one thing we needed to win and we got it done. Now we’re looking ahead to state to fight as hard as we can.”
Stillwater (14-2), which also defeated the Raptors 19-3 earlier this season, will face an opponent to be determined in Tuesday’s state quarterfinals at Chanhassen High School. Seedings are slated to be announced on Friday.
Stillwater’s surge began after a timeout with about 18 minutes remaining in the first half. Remi Larson scored a quick goal to even the score at 4-all and the Ponies closed out the first half with a 10-4 lead after goals by Sheely and Emma Wiessner in the final minute of the half.
“East Ridge has an amazing team and they’re getting a lot better,” Sheely said. “I think the key for us was to just get really focused. We were having a big of difficulty at first getting the draws and ground balls and stuff, but once we fired up and realized we can do it.”
The Ponies held East Ridge scoreless for more than 31 minutes after falling behind 4-3. Six players collected a point on Stillwater’s first five goals and that scoring balanced continued throughout much of the game, although Dana Almquist finished with a team-high five goals. Maggie Corman and Sheely added four goals apiece.
“It was definitely the biggest game of Maggie Corman’s career, which is important for us,” Ponies coach Rick Reidt said. “This is an offense where seven of our players can really score.”
After some early success, East Ridge struggled to crack goaltender Marie Bonine before she departed with five minutes remaining and seven saves on the board.
“Marie played a real solid game in the net,” Reidt said. “One of her strengths is clearing the ball and she did well in all parts of goalie play. Rachel Martell also played her best game of the year on defense. She played really solid body defense and Hannah Dick was playing very strong all over the field.”
East Ridge 4 1 — 5
Stillwater 10 7 — 17
Goals — ER, Jenna Griffith 3, Kayla Griffith and Alina Del Toro; St, Dana Almquist 5, Maggie Corman 4, Kate Sheely 4, Katie Casto, Emma Wiessner, Remi Larson and Madi Sova.
Assists — ER, none; St, Corman, Wiessner and Almquist.
Saves — ER, NA; St, Marie Bonine 7 and Britt Pooley 1.
Contact Stuart Groskreutz at [email protected]