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Girls lacrosse preview: Sights set on a section rematch

The old sports cliche says you should take one game at a time, but when you’re in the Farmington girls’ lacrosse team’s position, it’s hard not to think ahead, at least a little bit, to the Section 1AA tournament.

The Tigers have lost to Lakeville South in the section finals three years in a row, and with 16 returning letter winners from an 11-6 team, including a few captains with collegiate lacrosse careers on the horizon, they have good reason to think this might be the year they finally dethrone the Cougars and reach the state tournament.

“It’s no secret the goal is to finally get over that last bump and get to the state tournament,” Farmington coach Steph LaVictoire said. “We’re lucky because we have the camaraderie and team chemistry going into the season, so we have a leg up on a lot of teams. And we’re one of the most athletic teams in the conference.”

That athleticism can be found at every position on the field. Up front, captain Ashley Hessler leads a deep group of attackers after scoring 26 points last spring. She’s joined by returners Emma Kohlbeck (24 points), Mikala Revels (21 points), Izzy Zwart and Chloe Rothmeier.

The Tigers don’t have to rely on their attackers to do all the scoring thanks to their accomplished group of midfielders. All-time program points leader Ashley Steffes returns to lead the position group after scoring 33 goals and handing out 19 assists last season. She has signed to play lacrosse at Butler University next year.

“She has a nice flow to her game,” LaVictoire said. “She understands when it’s time to push on the gas and when to draw a double team and get rid of the ball. She is just a really smart player.”

Steffes is joined at the midfield spots by Lexi Laube (27 points), Josie Laube (16 points), Marissa Agerter and captain Kam Corraro (22 points), who will play at Detroit Mercy next season.

The Tiger defense is anchored by another future college lacrosse player. Lexi Stanley enters her fourth year as a member of the varsity squad and will play next season at Concordia-St. Paul. Joining her in an experienced defensive group are Christine Steffes, Kiley Braatz and Sam Wiebold. They will support a pair of goaltenders who could both see plenty of varsity time in Carly Simon (9.08 GAA) and Lexie Grove.

“Both of them bring really good attitudes,” LaVictoire said. “Carly got some good experience last year and Lexie got a little taste of varsity, as well. We’re feeling confident going into the season with our goaltending situation.”

LaVictoire said with her team’s experience and athleticism, she considers it to be among the top four squads in the conference, along with Prior Lake, Apple Valley and Lakeville South. She also figures the Cougars to be the team to beat in Section 1AA.

“You never know what’s going to happen, but ultimately there’s a good possibility it comes down to us and Lakeville South again. It has in years past and I would expect nothing different, except a different outcome.”

The Tigers open the season April 14 at Owatonna.

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