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Girls hockey: Irish earn top seed in 3AA

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Going into Saturday's regular-season finale against Eastview, Rosemount girls hockey coach Tracy Cassano didn't have to say much to her team.

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The Irish knew what was on the line.

Hosting Eastview, Rosemount knew section seeding and a higher conference finish would be determined by the one final game. The Lightning also held two wins against the Irish from earlier this season.

No motivational talks were needed from the Irish coaching staff.

"We didn't have to say a whole lot," Cassano said. "They knew. That's the nice thing about having a veteran team. They've been there. The captains and some of the older kids did most of the talking. We didn't say much as a team. They commented about second place in the conference and the No. 1 seed in the section. They knew."

Knowing what was at stake, Rosemount beat Eastview 1-0 in overtime to end the regular season. The Irish beat Eagan 4-3 four days earlier.

Rosemount (19-5-1, 14-3-1 South Suburban) finished second in the conference to Lakeville South (21-2-2, 15-1-2 South Suburban). Eastview (16-7-2, 13-5-1 South Suburban) was third.

Avenging the earlier losses to the Lightning also gave the Irish the No. 1 seed in the Class 2A, Section 3 tournament. Eastview is the No. 2 seed.

"We were really thinking Saturday's game was going to determine the No. 1 seed," Cassano said. "It's nice. Yet, on the same hand, you have to take it one game at a time, no matter what seed you are. You still have to win three games to advance.

"The kids have worked hard all year so it's nice to see them get rewarded."

Rosemount opened the section tournament with a home game Wednesday against No. 8 seed Woodbury. Results were not available at press time. Go to www.rosemounttownpages.com to see how the Irish fared.

Cassano is likely hoping for more of what she witnessed last week.

In the 4-3 win against Eagan, senior Rachael Kelly led the way with two goals and an assist.

Taylor Sampson and Alison Warweg also scored for Rosemount. Lauren Riley and Kristen Reuter tallied assists. Caitlin Dantzscher made 30 saves.

"It was just a fantastic team effort," Cassano said. "We had a couple of players out. So, it was one of those things where you're shorthanded and I think that motivated everybody to rise to the challenge. As a group, they just played a fantastic game."

Kelly and Sampson were pivotal in the game against Eastview as well.

Kelly scored just over four minutes into the overtime period. Sampson chased down a Lightning player and stole the puck. She passed to an open Kelly in front of the net, who buried the puck high past the goaltender.

Dantzscher finished off her sixth shutout of the season.

"It was just a great battle between both teams," Cassano said. "I thought it was a very sound defensive game by both teams. There were some scoring chances. They had four power plays to our zero, so I was impressed with the way we killed off the penalties we had. Otherwise it was a tight, back-and-forth game and we got the last goal there in overtime. It was pretty fun."

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