John Molene / contributor
Park and visiting Woodbury skated to a 2-2 overtime in a match of numerous twist and turns in the Cottage Grove Ice Arena Saturday afternoon, Jan. 6. Woodbury's Zach Lenz slammed in the game-tying goal with just nine seconds remaining to lift the Royals into the tie. Neither team could manage a score in overtime. Park came into Saturday's game on a four-game winning streak and a 5-0-1 record in its last six games. Woodbury has been slowly improving from a rugged -7 start with two wins in its last four games. But Saturday the two rivals were fit to be tied.
Tied at 42-all with 9:38 to play, Woodbury dominated the last nine and a half minutes to pull away from visiting Blooming Kennedy in girls basketball Wednesday, Dec. 20. The Royals outscored the visitors 24-9 down the stretch to earn the 67-51 non-conference victory.
It took the Woodbury Royals a while to figure things out. They trailed 17-9 early and 30-21 at the half. But when the Royals figured out how to roll, they rocked it. Woodbury outscored host Apple Valley 37-25 in the second half to take a come-from-behind 58-55 victory over the Eagles Friday, Dec. 8. It was Woodbury's first win of the young season and gave looks of both how young the Royals are and how much potential there is on this team. The Royals have just two seniors on the roster, both starters, and add a junior and two sophomores to the starting lineup.
Sixth-ranked East Ridge put five players in double figures and romped to a convincing 86-41 win over visiting Minneapolis Southwest as the Raptors opened the home season in a rare Wednesday game. New head coach Bryce Tesdahl got his first win at the school as East Ridge evened its season record at 1-1. The Raptors then improved to 2-1 with a 71-66 win over Chanhassen on Friday, Dec. 8.
The question now is what the East Ridge Raptors are going to do for an encore. At their best last season, East Ridge scored a 143.375 — a mark that earned them seventh at state. In their season debut Thursday, Dec. 7, the Raptors threw a 145.55. That score would have placed the team fourth at state last season. So it's safe to say the Raptors got the 2017-18 season off to a rousing start, easily vaulting past a good visiting Forest Lake team, 145.55 to 138.475.
Similar to crosstown rival East Ridge, the Woodbury Royals lost a lot of talent off last year's girls basketball team. Unlike the Raptors, however, the Royals have a star to build around in do-everything 5-10 all-star guard Rachel Hakes. Hakes may be called upon to carry an even heavier load for the Royals this season, a year before she departs to play basketball for Fairfield University. Woodbury was 15-13 overall and 9-7 in the Suburban East Conference last year, tying for fifth.
Almost all of the chips were stacked against the Thunderbolts. Their goalie was a rookie, senior offensive leader Bryce Smith was out with a broken toe and North Suburban had just scored a demoralizing goal to force overtime. But then there was little-used freshman Jack Swedahl, who happily came to the rescue with a game-winning goal in overtime that gave South Washington County a 3-2 victory. "I just kicked it and it went in," a modest Swedahl said. "And it was a good shot."
East Ridge ninth-grader Chloe Wangensteen led area swimmers and divers in the 2017 Girls Class AA swim and dive championships Saturday. Competing at the University of Minnesota Aquatic Center, Wangensteen finished 13th in the 100-yard breaststroke in a time of 1:06.52. She swam a 1:06.77 in the prelims Friday, then bettered that time in the finals. Woodbury sophomore Gabby Vitela finished 15th in the 500-yard freestyle in 5:11.83.
East Ridge’s Chloe Wangenstein and Callie Kunz, Woodbury’s Gabby Vitela and Park’s Kylie Doty all qualified for the state swimming championships with top performances in the eight-team Section 3AA championship meet Friday, Nov. 10.
Fourth-seeded going into the sections, the New Life Academy Eagles ended the season fifth at state. Playing in their first Minnesota State High School girls volleyball state tournament, the Eagles capped a remarkable post-season run with a 3-1 victory in the Class A consolation championship game Saturday, Nov. 11, at the Xcel Energy Center. The Eagles dropped Cook County 25-19, 27-25, 25-22 to finish a season which defied all expectations, except perhaps their own.