The Two Rivers/Gentry Academy Warriors felt good about going into their first state girls’ lacrosse tournament last week. The Warriors were riding a 13-game winning streak, not having lost since their regular-season opener against a team from Illinois.
However, the Warriors dropped their first game at state 8-7 in overtime on June 14 to Benilde-Saint Margaret’s and their second 12-7 two days later to Stillwater to see an otherwise stellar season come to an end.
Coach Jeff Rosga didn’t want to lose sight of the big picture, despite the double losses. “I’m proud of our girls,” he said.
Rosga stressed that for talented but young teams like his, the key is to gain experience. With the Warriors graduating only four seniors this season, there should be another opportunity for success in 2023.
In both state contests, the Warriors were right in the games at halftime. They were actually up 7-4 in the second half against Benilde, but weren’t able to score again. Against Stillwater, they had to play the second half without senior Jaylen Rosga, the coach’s high-scoring daughter andEast Metro girls’ player of the year, who tweaked her hamstring and had to come out of the game.
Stillwater knew they had to contain Jaylen in order to win and constantly had a defender in her face during the first half. Still, Jaylen scored three goals while she was on the field. Rosga said it was a tough decision him to take her out of the game, but was quick to add that it was the right call.
“Obviously, it’s going to make an impact if you lose a player like that,” he said. “But Jay said she wasn’t sure if it was a good idea to go back out there. It was a decision that was made out of caution.”
Against Benilde, the Warriors had a similar reversal of fortune down the stretch. “We had our opportunities and couldn’t get it done when we did,” Rosga said. “They also had their opportunities and they converted on them.”
“We just have to remember to work hard,” coach Rosga said. “We think we’re developing a good program here.”
The Warriors went into the playoffs sporting some imposing numbers on both sides of the ball. Through the regular season and first playoff game (15 games), Jaylen had a gaudy 64 goals and 59 assists. That was followed by junior Eva Anderson’s 55 goals and 13 assists, and eighth-grader Samantha Hohn’s 30 goals and 29 assists.
Approaching the first playoff game, senior goalie Olivia Lilla and eighth-grade netminder Ava Davis had combined for nine shutouts. Through 15 games, the Warriors were averaging 27 points a contest.
The Warriors had zipped their way through the Section 3 playoffs. They pounded Saint Paul Academy 26-0, then Simley 13-5 and later Park of Cottage Grove 15-5 in the finals.
Rosga said there was every reason for the team to continue improving next season, with the overwhelming majority of players returning. He added that the Warriors had actually outplayed New Trier in the second half of their only regular-season loss (New Trier went on to become the Illinois state champion), which is something further for the Warriors to build on.
“We just have to remember to work hard,” Rosga said. “We think we’re developing a good program here.”
— Bill Wagner
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