For the first time in three seasons, Coon Rapids (7-2, 10-3) didn’t win the Northwest Suburban Conference girls’ lacrosse title after a 9-7 loss to Robbinsdale Armstrong (9-0, 11-1) in the final regular season game at Cardinals Stadium May 25.
The Cardinals couldn’t prevent Armstrong from going undefeated in conference play this spring in what turned out to be a very competitive lacrosse match. The Cardinals lost senior all-time leading scorer Sammi DeJoy (51 goals, 58 points this spring) to her second yellow card with 11 minutes left in the opening half and her team down 3-1.
The second yellow card was issued for unsportsmanlike conduct after DeJoy questioned the referee’s call and was the third time she’s left a game this season. Nine seconds later Armstrong scored to make it 4-1. Two goals each from seniors Rachel Droubie and Heidi Hannula helped the Cardinals tie the game at 4-4 before the Falcons took a 6-5 lead into halftime and never trailed in the second half.
Droubie and Hannula each finished with three goals and Hannula added an assist.
Armstrong played well in each aspect of the game, by winning restarts, ground balls and transitioning effeciently enough to create odd-man rushes at the goal, translating into quick goals.
Droubie, the squad’s No. 2 scorer with 30 goals and 53 points, was denied on several scoring chances after being thrust into the go-to playmaker in the attacking third of the field after DeJoy’s ejection from the game. She moved into an attacking role after being a staple in the defense last season.
“She’s really been a leader all year for us and credit Armstrong for not giving us too many good looks,” Coon Rapids coach Jeff DeJoy said after the game. “Armstrong defended us straight on in the second half which forced us to work the ball wide which changed the angle of our attack.”
Ending the regular season with a close loss to the conference champions isn’t the way DeJoy wanted to enter sections, but he’ll take the experience gained everytime. “You wish to be tested going into sections and we definately were and to hold a team like Armstrong which averages something like 18 goals per game to half that shows we can compete with the best,” he said.
Droubie and Sammi echoed Jeff’s thoughts on being tested headed into sections instead of easing through a lopsided victory.
“It will fire us up more than anything,” Droubie said.
“We get too confident then if we play an easy team and we don’t want to get overconfident,” Sammi said, learning from early-round exits over the last two section tournaments after posting 12-3 and 14-3 records in 2012 and 2011, respectively.
“We know not to come into anything too confident,” she said. “We have to play our game and in the end that will help us be victorious.”
Coon Rapids has benefited from a patient attack, learning from experience, instead of forcing the ball.
“We are fast-paced but in the right time and right way,” Sammi said.
Not many gave Coon Rapids much hope of a third-straight title given who the team graduated in 2012 but that didn’t deter the squad from another strong season, tying Maple Grove with 7-2 NWSC records for second place.
Coon Rapids faced Andover in the opening round of the Section 7 tournament May 28. The winner of the Blaine/Spring Lake Park game faced the winner of Coon Rapids/Andover in the semifinals May 31 with the final set for 5 p.m., June 5 at Irondale High School.