Prior Lake junior Jake Leonard (8) shoots and scores the game winning goal putting his team ahead 3-2 over Chanhassen for the Class 2A, Section 2 title match held at Shakopee West Junior High School. Photo by Travis Ellison, SportsEngine
Prior Lake, seeded second in Class 2A, Section 2, found itself trailing by two goals in the first half of the section championship against No. 5 Chanhassen Thursday night.
“To be down 2-0 in the first half, we showed a lot of resiliency,” junior Jake Leonard said.
The Lakers recovered from their rough start, scoring three unanswered goals to clinch their first state tournament berth in Class 2A after a 3-2 victory over the Storm at Vaughan Stadium in Shakopee.
Leonard netted the game-winner with seven minutes left in regulation, blasting a shot from 15 yards out past Storm goalkeeper Luke Reich.
The Lakers went a month during the regular season without losing a game in and hadn’t dealt with much adversity before falling in their final two games before the playoffs began.
Coach Mike Shebuski said Prior Lake (14-4-1, 6-2-1) prefers to stay grounded and not buy too much in streaks, but facing a Chanhassen (14-4-1, 5-1-1) team that was riding a 10-game unbeaten streak, they knew beating the Storm would be a daunting task.
“We don’t let the highs get too full of ourselves and the lows get us too frustrated,” Shebuski said.
Prior Lake were caught offside 11 times in the first half as the Lakers were unaccustomed to playing against such a high back line. Eventually, however, Logan Weller broke the line with a burst of speed, chasing a ball down that he eventually tapped in for Prior Lake’s first goal.
“Prior Lake played a really good game. We had all the momentum and for them to rebound and fight back was really good,” Chanhassen coach Tom Szewczyk said. “I’m proud of what our guys… the standards from the program are gonna raise from this point forward.”
This season was a landmark year for the Storm. Chanhassen hadn’t won a section game in program history until this fall and posted a program-best 14 wins.
The Lakers found their game in the final half where Daniel Wee scored the equalizer before Leonard’s game-clinching goal.
Shebuski, in his 13th year at the helm of the Lakers, said this group’s passion for the game is what’s set them apart from past years.
“Soccer in the area has continued to grow and this group has been competing since they were young. They love to play and spend time together,” Shebuski said. “It’s a special group and its been a lot of fun. I’m pretty lucky to have a group like them.”
Prior Lake junior Jake Leonard (8) and teammates Aidan Becken (15), Owen Antonoplos (20), Michael Wu (14) pose after the come from behind 3-2 victory over Chanhassen for the Class 2A, Section 2 title match. Photo by Travis Ellison, SportsEngine
Jake Leonard’s goal with seven minutes left in regulation lifted Prior Lake to a 3-2 comeback victory over Chanhassen Thursday night in the Class 2A, Section 2 final at Vaughan Stadium in Shakopee.
The top-seeded Lakers (14-4-1) advance to their first Class 2A state tournament since their only other appearance in 2000.
Chanhassen scored in the fourth minute when Cavin Allen, assisted by Danny Brown, placed a header past Prior Lake keeper Ethan Derks. Zach Swisher pushed the Storm ahead by two goals scoring midway through the first half.
Logan Weller replied two minutes later, showing his speed by beating two defenders and side-stepping Storm (14-4-1) goalkeeper Luke Reich.
Daniel Wee found the net in the second half to tie the game, setting up Leonard’s game-winner where he blasted a shot to the top corner of the net from 15 yards out.
Derks made four saves for Prior Lake, while Reich stopped five in net for the Storm.
Chanhassen senior Callahan Manuel (2) competes for possession against Prior Lake senior Logan Weller (12) late in the second half as Chanhassen comes up short in a 3-2 loss against at Shakopee West Junior High School. Photo by Travis Ellison, SportsEngine
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