There were hugs, there were a few tears, but there was also celebration.

Not too often a section runner-up cheers during the plaque ceremony. Announcement or not, Chanhassen head girls lacrosse coach Rachel Aiken made sure her players realized where they were.

And what they had done.

A program-best 14 wins. A Minnesota Miss Lacrosse finalist in senior Shea Kerry. Numerous all-state and all-conference award winners, and state coach and assistant coach of the year honors for Aiken and Tamara Hodgins.

Hugs between the coaching staffs between Chanhassen and Eden Prairie showed the Storm also have gained respect.

While the Eagles won their 13th consecutive section title, a 14-9 decision over the Storm June 5 at Aerie Stadium, the two meetings between the teams this season showed Chanhassen is closing the gap with Eden Prairie.

"It's tough because we believed we were a solid unit, that we could win this game. We wanted to make sure we celebrated being here. We've been a program for six years since the split with Chaska. We won our fourth conference championship, we were able to get over the semifinal hill with Minnetonka, so we talked about not missing the fact that we were here doing something we had never done before," Aiken said.

What makes Eden Prairie so dominant, state champions in 2015, 2016 and 2017, upset by a goal by Apple Valley in the finals in 2018, is their speed. Whether in transition or in their passing, a blink of the eye and the ball is in the back of the net.

An 11-5 advantage at halftime, nine of those Eden Prairie goals came as the result of a direct assist.

"That's Eden Prairie's go-to. They play fast in transition. I thought we did a better job in the second half shutting that down. Were there areas we could have been better? Sure. Our entire midfield was new to the position, and look at how well they did all season. We're a talented team top to bottom, but Eden Prairie was just better," Aiken said.

Chanhassen, like it did in an April meeting, made a run in the second half, drawing within 12-8 on a Sydnie Soto tally as she was knocked to the turf.

A 2-minute player advantage following for Chanhassen, a Storm turnover gave Eden Prairie possession, and they wouldn't give up the ball until Abby Johnson found twine for the 13-8 lead. Johnson added a second goal from in tight to seal the win.

Senior Grace Doerring, who started the scoring for Chanhassen, finished it off, adding a goal in the final minutes at 14-9.

Eden Prairie, now 15-0 against teams from Minnesota this season, ranked No. 1, gained leads of 3-0 and 6-2.

A pair of Leah Hodgins and Siri Hodgins tallies drew Chanhassen within 9-5. Elle Wagner and Siri Hodgins added second-half goals as the Storm kept pace after the early deficit.

Kaylyn Cater was unofficially credited with six saves for Chanhassen. Emilie Bloyer was impressive in goal for Eden Prairie, stopping 9-of-18 shots.

In addition to Doerring, other seniors for the Storm are the defensive trio of Kerry, Lauren Armani and Maia Hodgins, forward Livie Saatzer, and reserves Josie Seltun and Mackenzie McCoy.

The State quarterfinals are Tuesday, June 11 at Minnetonka High School with the semifinals and finals at Chanhassen High School on June 13 and 15.

"We're sad because it's over. We're sad because it ended too soon, and we have to watch them play at our stadium, but we're excited for the future. We have a great feeder program that's going to get us past this point very soon," Aiken said.


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