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• LAKEVILLE NORTH 3, EAGAN 1: On the schedule it's just one match -- and a regular season one at that -- but there was no mistaking the importance of Tuesday's match between No. 1, 3A Lakeville North and No. 3, 3A Eagan.
Not only was the South Suburban Conference title at stake, but it paired two of the state's top talents in Lakeville North's Alyssa Goehner and Eagan's Taylr McNeil, both junior outside hitters.
In the end, Lakeville North, utilizing a backboard defense and a creative offense led by Goehner's devastating attacks and setter Erica Handley's moxie, outlasted the host Wildcats in four sets, winning 25-22, 23-25, 25-19, 25-22.
"Oh, yes, that one was big," said Goehner, who was in attack mode from the outset. "You look forward to playing in matches like that."
It didn't matter whether she was hitting from the back row or her preferred spot on the left side of the court, Goehner was the dominant force in the match, finishing with 34 kills for North (26-1, 8-1 South Suburban).
But Goehner did not do it alone. Defensive specialists Abby Monson and Laura Larson repeatedly stymied Eagan attacks while Handley found a myriad of ways to contribute, whether it be setting for Goehner or surprising Eagan with quick tip kills to open spaces.
"Our defense is the best in the state," Goehner said after the match. "And Erica did so much. I've never played with a setter as good as her. We were ready."
For Eagan (18-3, 8-1), the result was another disappointing loss to Lakeville North, a team they consider their main rival. The Wildcats had lost to the Panthers in the 2011 playoff and were looking forward to trying to exact a little revenge.
"Disappointing is exactly the right word," Eagan Libero Calleigh Steichen said. "They played smarter than us. But it's just one match. We'd love another chance at them."
• SECTION 7: As far as Blaine's girls' soccer team was concerned, Tuesday's Class 2A, Section 7 championship game at Andover could not have started worse.
The host Huskies scored twice in the first four minutes but Blaine clawed back for a 4-2 victory and a second consecutive section championship. The Bengals (14-4-1) advance to next week's state tournament.
No. 1 seed Andover beat No. 2 Blaine 2-1 on Aug. 28 and seemed poised to sweep the season series as Raquel Thelen scored two quick goals. The second came on an unassisted corner kick. Tuesday marked the first appearance in a section final for Andover (14-3-1), which opened in 2002.
Sydney Seim scored for Blaine later in the first half. Britney Monteon tied the game 2-2 less than 2 minutes into the second half with the first of her two goals. Ashley Pafko tallied the eventual game-winning goal, heading a shot into the Andover net in the 65th minute.
DAVID LA VAQUE