Lacrosse: Cardinals return to section final

Winning close games is a sign of a good team but Coon Rapids head coach Jeff DeJoy has seen his share of tense endings to games this season.

The Cardinals are 5-0 in games decided by two goals or less. Though two section games have been anything but close, beating Centennial and Osseo/Park Center by a combined 31-21.

Bailey Ryan leads the team with 12 points (nine goals) after collecting 23 points in 13 regular season games.

Coon Rapids’ Helen Nelson, middle, sets up a shot on goal during a section win against Centennial May 28.Photo by Jason Olson

Coon Rapids’ Helen Nelson, second from left, sets up a shot on goal during a section win against Centennial May 28.Photo by Jason Olson

Coon Rapids ended the regular season with a 14-9 loss at Champlin Park in a game that was for the Northwest Suburban Conference title. The top-seeded Rebels out scored the Cardinals 7-3 in the second half.

Coon Rapids had to find new sources of scoring after graduating 100 points between Sammi DeJoy and Rachel Droubie. They’ve done that by spreading the scoring around where the top seven scorers have more than 17 points and the top four scorers have more than 32 points.

Heidi Hannula’s 50 points (38 goals) leads the way followed by Neira Begic (42 points, 29 goals), Allie Erickson (36 points, 29 goals) and Lily Hackett (32 points, 23 goals).

“I said from the start that if we wanted to be good we had to replace those goals,” DeJoy said. “It had to be a group effort and it meant greater ownership from all and goal setting.”

Coon Rapids Heidi Hannula, front, looks to make a pass against Centennial, May 28. Photo by Jason Olson

Coon Rapids Heidi Hannula, front, looks to make a pass against Centennial, May 28. Photo by Jason Olson

He noted how Begic, Hackett and Bailey Ryan have all stepped up offensively. Ryan leads the team with 12 points in two section games. Erickson and Helen Nelson have been two welcome newcomers to the mix.

As a result the Cardinals have out scored the opposition 170-116, including a 25-goal edge in the second half.

Everyone’s role on the team has evolved throughout the season. Hannula has more offensive looks at the net after a shift to get her the ball with more room to run.

Alexa Turner and Megan Phillippi moved deeper into the defense to shore up some defensive lapses alongside seniors Kaylie Brooks, Shawna Lagren and Bethany Hanson.

“It’s been a work-in-progress but thankfully all of the girls are strong-willed and determined,” DeJoy said. “They are constantly communicating and solving things on the field.”

Jason Olson is at
jason.olson@ecm-inc.com

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