State lacrosse: Eden Prairie rallies past Rosemount for second straight state title
When Trent Woodcock’s goal put Rosemount in front 10-8 with a minute to go in the third quarter of Tuesday afternoon’s lacrosse state championship game, it looked like the No. 1-ranked Irish were moving into position to grab the program’s first title.
But that final minute of the third loomed large, and by the beginning of the fourth quarter Eden Prairie was riding a wave of momentum toward its second straight state championship. The Eagles scored three goals in the final 52 seconds of the third, including Nick Leiverman’s second buzzer-beater of the game, and then scored on the first possession of the fourth take a 12-10 lead. They controlled the ball throughout most of the fourth quarter and ran the clock out on a 13-11 victory over the Irish at Irish Stadium.
The game was moved to Rosemount after being rained out in Chanhassen on Saturday and Monday. The Chanhassen High School field was unavailable on Tuesday.
“The last 30 seconds of the third quarter cost us. You have to make sure you finish the whole quarter. We got caught in an ugly situation and that got them the game,” Rosemount coach Lance Kuehn said. “It’s been our goal (to win state), but there’s always a winner and a loser and Eden Prairie played great. Being No. 2 in the state is still something to be proud of. That’s what we told the boys.”
The Eagles (17-2) had an advantage at the end of each of the first three quarters. The Irish (16-2) took a 3-1 lead when Minnesota Mr. Lacrosse winner Conner Yepsen scored on a fast break with 4:33 left in the first, but Eden Prairie responded with a pair of goals to make it 3-3 after one.
The Eagles scored the first two goals of the second, but David Blanco quickly answered with a goal on a feed from Matt Johnson to make it 5-4. The Irish were moving in to try to tie the score in the closing seconds of the half, but a costly turnover gave Eden Prairie the ball back and Leiverman found the net with one second on the clock to make it 6-4.
Despite the frustrating final seconds of the half, the Irish emerged to play their best lacrosse of the day over the first 11 minutes of the third quarter. Carter Yepsen and Matt Johnson got the scoring started, each tossing in long shots, and a 4-0 scoring run featuring two goals by Woodcock and one each from Johnson and Luke VanOverbeke made it 10-8.
The Eagles outscored the Irish 5-1 the rest of the way, and added to their advantage in possession by winning 16 of 26 faceoffs. All-tournament team selection Ben Campbell received the biggest ovation from the Eden Prairie fans after the game for his efforts in winning 13 of 21 faceoffs.
“We knew that was going to be a struggle with that big, strong, tough ox. That was a key to the game,” Kuehn said. “You want to get possession and get into your offense and they got a few more than us.”
Meanwhile, the Eden Prairie zone defense focused in on the Yepsen twins and held Conner to one goal and Carter to two. Johnson and Woodcock picked up the slack, each scoring hat tricks. Mason Hille had two assists.
“(Their zone) was nothing we hadn’t seen before,” Kuehn said. “We just tried to look to the other guys and they did a good job.”
Shots on goal ended up about even, with Eden Prairie taking 23 to Rosemount’s 22. Irish goaltender Shaun Skrbec finished with 10 saves, including three during a busy stretch late in the second quarter that kept it a 5-4 game.
All-tournament selection Sean Patterson scored a game-high six goals for the Eagles, who were making their sixth championship game appearance in eight years.
The Irish were making their first state appearance after coming up short in the section tournament the last several seasons. Kuehn was happy with the progress his team made during its record-setting season, and hopes this was just the beginning of a long run of success for the Irish.
“We’re now established as a program,” Kuehn said. “Eden Prairie is a team that has been here every year and we showed that other teams can get here and be here perennially.”
The game was a rematch of the 6A Prep Bowl championship, which Eden Prairie won 28-7... Campbell entered the game having won 182 of 268 faceoffs this season... Conner Yepsen, Carter Yepsen, Luke VanOverbeke and Trent Woodcock were named to the all-tournament team.