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Girls lacrosse: Wild Irish fall one game short of state tournament

With the Rosemount/Eagan girls lacrosse team advancing to its first ever section final, Wild Irish coach Jeff Smith was pleased to just be in the position to play for a trip to the state tournament.

Rosemount/Eagan has steadily improved over the past few seasons and managed to build on last year's semifinal finish. The Wild Irish had advanced another step in the playoffs, completing one of the team's goals at the beginning of the season.

They had another goal, though. They wanted to finish the season by qualifying for the state tournament.

When the Wild Irish lost a close 11-9 game against Bloomington Jefferson in the section championship game, it left another goal to build on next season.

"I'm so proud of this team and the players should be proud of their accomplishments," Smith said. "We had the goal of exceeding standards that last year's semifinal team set. They accomplished it with the 7-3 run the last 10 games and into the section championship game. The final record was 9-7 and the Jefferson loss in the championship game was the sixth out of seven this season that we lost by two goals or less. So, except for one game, we were always competitive and in position to win the game at the end."

Rosemount/Eagan, seeded No. 7 for the Section 3 tournament, advanced to the finals with a 14-13 win last week against No. 3 seed Apple Valley. The Wild Irish then lost to No. 4 seed Bloomington Jefferson 11-9 in the championship game.

After connecting late in another come-from-behind victory against the Eagles, Rosemount/Eagan wasn't able to pull off another late comeback against the Jaguars.

The Wild Irish certainly were confident they could rally.

"We had our chances with some good possessions, a couple of free shots, and good looks at the net, but couldn't find a way to get the ball in the net during the last 10 minutes which we had learned during the past couple of games was plenty of time for us," Smith said.

Rosemount/Eagan got within a goal with 11:03 remaining after Hannah O'Donnell scored, but Jefferson added the final tally with 9:58 left.

The two teams went back and forth scoring goals early in the first half and entered halftime tied 7-7. But the Jaguars took control after halftime with three straight goals in the first six minutes.

Simone Haugen scored five goals for the Wild Irish and passed out two assists.

Maddie Johnson had two goals and an assist. Cassie Miller finished with a goal and two assists.

Rosemount/Eagan goaltender Annie Smith made 19 saves on 30 shots faced.

"The game lived up to championship game expectations," Smith said.

There was reason for the Wild Irish to believe they would rally late. They had come-from-behind in two previous playoff games.

Against Apple Valley last week, Rosemount/Eagan trailed 13-11, but scored three unanswered goals in the final 4:12 to pull out the victory. Haugen scored the tying goal and Miller added the game-winner.

Johnson scored five times. Haugen finished with four goals and an assist. Abi Rodstein had three goals. Miller added a goal and two assists.