Chanhassen was one win away from state in 2019. They won 13 matches in 2018, received the No. 1 seed and played for a section title in 2018. The Class of 2020 had high hopes dashed away because of COVID.
The 2021 season, a section championship win June 9, the ensuing celebration, that was for them. That was for guys like Jadon Kerry and Cole Grindberg, Riah Rathe, Hunter Holcomb, Sam Shifflett, who never were able to realize the dream of making state.
Chanhassen's 13-12 win over second-seeded Shakopee was a culmination of many years of hard work within the program.
"It feels great. I've been on this team a while. I was on this team when we had Jadon and Cole, two of the best players I've ever seen, and even with them we didn't make it. I just think we had this group of guys with so much talent and we were able to come together and play as one. This one is special, especially as a senior," Chanhassen's Tyr Christianson said.
"Missing last year, those seniors, we figured we were going to have a good team. Knowing they never had a chance to do this last year, this is for them. We see them up in the crowd. It's fun to see the progression this team has made since I joined high school lacrosse. We learned from some great guys and we're excited to win this one for them, too," Chanhassen junior Tanner Johnson said.
Christianson, a member of the high school program since eighth grade, one of three seniors in uniform, found himself with the edge on the defense, the Storm leading 12-9 in the fourth quarter.
No lead safe, Christianson attacked, scoring from a poor angle over the shoulder of the Shakopee goaltender. A four-goal lead with eight minutes to play. The only goal scored in the fourth quarter for the Storm.
"After I put that one in, Carter (Van Holland) came up to me and told me that was an important goal. I felt that, too. I felt like an extra goal there was going to be huge, give us a little bigger cushion. We've seen teams come back on us in the fourth quarter. If they lose this game, they're done, so there was plenty of fight in (Shakopee)," Christianson said.
Shakopee trailed 8-2 in the first half, the Storm scoring three times with a non-releasable 2-minute penalty. As quickly though, the Sabers began winning face-offs, freshman Jadon Hellerud, capitalizing on the possessions to draw within one.
It was 10-7 at halftime in favor of Chanhassen.
"It's really about momentum. When one team gets it, it seems to be tough to regain it. I know we spent a lot of time in our end there in the second quarter. You could tell in this heat we were tired. It was tough to perform at our best there, but thankfully the offense found a few goals and got things going in our direction again," Johnson, a junior defender, said.
Goals from Brady Grandstaff and Carter Van Holland pushed the lead to 12-8 at the end of the third quarter, a more cohesive defensive effort for the Storm.
"We switched up our defense, went to a 3-3 zone. We were able to lock them up, stay with that. We started to communicate better and slide better to the open man. It was fun to see that improvement throughout the match," Johnson said.
Shakopee, winners of 13 straight, scored twice in the closing minutes, and had a possession with a chance to tie. Chanhassen goaltender Grant Penttinen, like he did in a semifinal win, came up big with a final save, No. 15 for the game.
Van Holland, John Dahl and Grandstaff each scored hat tricks with Mitchell Breza finishing with two goals and Christianson with a tally and three assists.
Dylan Kendrick, with a team-high nine ground balls and a goal, won 15 face-offs, including all eight in the first quarter for Chanhassen.
Chanhassen, ranked No. 2, a program-best 15 wins in 16 games, now advances to the state tournament at Stillwater High School on Tuesday, June 15.
Ethan Mostrom remembers the early years of Shakopee lacrosse. A 4-win 2016 season, he was in the stands to watch Chanhassen beat the Sabers 19-4 in the first round of the playoffs.
Steady improvement, nine wins in 2017 and 12 wins in 2019, all ended the same -- playoff losses to an elite program in Eden Prairie.
With 14 wins in 15 games in 2021, a one-goal defeat in April to No. 5 Prior Lake, Shakopee is establishing themselves among the elite in the southwest metro.
A program-first victory over Minnetonka in the semifinals showed that. Playing to the final horn in a one-goal defeat versus No. 2 Chanhassen was the exclamation point. The Sabers belong. And they will for years to come, just five seniors on the roster.
"I've been around in this program for a while. Since like eighth grade. Every year we've lost to a good team, Eden Prairie every year. So to beat Minnetonka this year was an accomplishment for our guys, our team. A lot of young guys. We're going to be back. We're going to be back," Mostrom said.
The 2021 season was trying for Shakopee. And this is after missing the 2020 season due to the pandemic. Their family was hurting. Head coach Sean Pollack's wife, Jenna, found out in April that she has stage 4 metastatic breast cancer.
Lacrosse has brought the team and coaches together. Signified by a group hug after the game, after each coach spoke about the 14-2 season.
"There was a lot of adversity. A lot of family stuff, coach's wife. All that adversity made us stronger. It made us closer. All the hard work we put into it every day, it was because we were doing that for our brothers, our team," said Mostrom, who was second on the Sabers with 31 goals and a team-high 27 assists.
Shakopee will go on and do great things, Mostrom said. While it hurts to come up a goal short in the championship, he's happy he was part of its arrival on the lacrosse scene.
"We fought back and I'm really proud of the effort the guys showed tonight and all season," Mostrom said.
Linus Toward (three goals, assist), Luke Whitbeck (two goals), Tyrus laden (two goals), Colton Maskevich (goal, four assists), and Michael Stack (goal, assist) led Shakopee offensively in the championship.
Goaltender Weston Brosam made 11 saves, while Jadon Hellerud won 13-of-21 face-offs over the final three quarters.