Sixty-six goals scored, seven goals allowed, over the first four matches of the 2021 season, Chanhassen girls lacrosse coaches knew Saturday's marquee match-up with Prior Lake might be eye-opening.
And it was. The second-ranked Lakers outscored the Storm 7-1 in the second half, pulling away for the 15-5 victory.
So how did Chanhassen coaches handle the next practice a day in advance of another top-10 match-up?
"They said they were super proud of us. That they were super excited to have that opportunity. That opportunity to understand what playing against a team of that skill level is like, and what we needed to learn. Yeah we lost, but we all took it as a chance to learn," Chanhassen senior captain Kaylyn Cater said.
Monday's "pep talk" paid dividends as a renewed effort resulted in a 16-4 win over No. 6-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret on Tuesday.
"Prior Lake was a wake-up call for us. We have a very young team, and they are working so hard in practice. For most of them it was their first time really seeing that level of play. The girls are so young; they absorb everything. They want to learn. They want to improve. They know the opportunity with this team. They all really care a lot," Cater said.
Falling behind 2-0, Chanhassen scored 11 straight goals before halftime against the Red Knights. Seven of those came from Leah Hodgins, who added an eighth goal 85 seconds into the second half.
Bella Detienne netted four goals and Allie Welder scored twice with Cater stopping seven of 11 shots in goal.
"Our team needed it. It was super exciting. It was a big conference win," Cater said.
LEARNING FROM THE BEST
The basement at the Cater house in Chanhassen is fitted with a theater setting. Kaylyn and her dad, Scott, often times open up their computers and pull up game film.
Kaylyn is eager to listen, eager to learn. And she's learning from the best. Scott Cater was once a standout goaltender at the University of Minnesota-Duluth, and is a member of the Bulldog Lacrosse Hall of Fame.
Scott became the first coach to reach 200 career wins with the Bloomington Jefferson boys team. He's been with the Jaguars for nearly a quarter of a century, the longest-tenured high school coach in the state.
Locally, Scott is the C3 Youth Lacrosse Director of Girls Coaching and a Minnesota Elite Goaltender coach since 2015.
"My first year, I started in the field and it just wasn't for me. My dad still had some of his old goalie stuff, so I said let's try goaltender," Cater said.
That was eight years ago. Now Kaylyn is one of the premier goaltenders in the state, a starter for Chanhassen since her freshman season. Next year she'll play at Division II Grand Valley State in Michigan.
"It's very similar," said Cater about her mindset then and now as a senior. "I think a lot more now about my leadership role. Being a role model for my teammates. I have all of this experience and I really like to share what I know. I really like to make sure I get across to the girls what I can."
Kaylyn knows lacrosse.
She grew up on the Bloomington Jefferson sidelines, an assistant to the student managers for her dad's teams as a kid.
"I grew up on the sidelines, but it's funny because I never really wanted to play. I never had a desire to play lacrosse. I was more into soccer. I had different interests. My dad said give it one season, one summer. I was hooked," Cater said.
It takes a "unique breed," Cater said, to play goaltender. To have a lacrosse ball whipped at. With just some shin pads, a helmet and a chest protector.
"I came home with a bruise on the inside of my arm from tonight. Bella Detienne hit me with a shot. I gave Bella crap. Same team, you know. I've had teachers see the bruises and ask if I'm alright and I just tell them I'm a lacrosse goaltender," Cater said.
'IT'S A GIFT'
Early on in the 2021 season, Bloomington Jefferson and Chanhassen met in a girls/boys doubleheader, a rare occurrence in Metro West Conference play. Usually one team is home, one team is away.
Scott Cater was able to watch his daughter in the first game and coach in the next.
"He's amazing. He asks (Chanhassen girls coach Rachel Aiken) ahead of time our schedule and then he makes his schedule around my games. Every year they schedule both games at one site," Cater said.
Kaylyn, who once used to deck out in Jaguars gear, played on the Bloomington Jefferson turf just once over four high school seasons due to COVID in 2020. That came as a freshman, a 7-4 win.
"Playing at his stadium, it was really surreal. This was a place where I watched so many games," Kaylyn said.
It was last season, a lost year in which Chanhassen might have walked away with a state title, that Cater dedicates the 2021 season to. So many of her teammates, her friends, didn't have their senior season.
"Every single day, every single game, every single practice, it's a gift. I remember last year, we were at the end of the Eden Prairie winter league, the pandemic was just starting in China, and we were joking that it might cancel our season. When it did, we were devastated. We felt like it was our season," Cater said.
Chanhassen, now 5-1 overall, still thinks it can be their season. The rest of the schedule with the likes of unbeaten Minnetonka, Blake School, Breck School, Chaska, and Lakeville North, will tell a lot.
The next test comes in Eden Prairie, which has won every Section 2 title from 2007 to 2019. It was 2019 in which Chanhassen reached the section final for the first time.
The Storm and Eagles play at Storm Stadium at 6 p.m. on Thursday, May 6.
"It's definitely a big game for us. We learned a lot from Prior Lake. Overall, I think our communication is better. Our defense is working really hard. This is a big game for us to see where we stand," Cater said.