Boys state lacrosse: Eden Prairie tames Eagan’s offense in quarterfinals to continue impressive playoff run

It’s rare Eden Prairie can ever be considered a Cinderella in the sports realm, but the Eagles are making quite the impressive run at the moment in boys lacrosse. And the ride lives for at least another round.

Eden Prairie was the No. 4 seed in the Section 6 tournament and edged top-seeded Prior Lake in the section semifinals before downing third-seeded Edina in the section final.

Both were tight, low-scoring contests.

The Eagles followed a similar formula in the boys state quarterfinals Tuesday at Eden Prairie High School.

Eden Prairie flummoxed Eagan’s usually potent offense en route to an 8-6 upset victory in the No. 4-5 matchup.

The fifth-seeded Eagles will meet top-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Chaska High School. The Red Knights topped unseeded Centennial 16-7 on Tuesday.

Eden Prairie (12-5) came out on fire Tuesday, compiling a 5-0 lead after the first frame, something senior attackman Danny Burke chalked up to preparation.

“We had a good week of practice, and then just coming out and knowing what we wanted to do in the game and then executing,” said Burke, who tallied three goals and two assists. “I think that was the key to the win today.”

Burke is friends with Eagan star attackman Sam Simon, and he admitted it’s a fun motivation to prove himself against what he considers to be a superior player. Eden Prairie’s offense certainly established more rhythm than Eagan’s early.

The Wildcats (13-4) struggled to generate good looks. In large part, that was a product of Eden Prairie’s defense.

Burke credited the defensive efforts of Isaiah Hazekamp and Max Kukla for making Simon’s life difficult, while noting Aiden Chipongian played “lights out” in net.

“We were playing, obviously, against one of the best players in the state,” Burke said. “I couldn’t be more impressed with the guys down on the defensive side of the ball.”

Eagan trailed 6-2 at the half and was down 8-3 in the final frame. To the Wildcats’ credit, they potted the final three goals of the contest – two of which came from Simon – and nearly pulled within one with roughly 20 seconds to play, only to have a shot clang off the crossbar.

“We’ve done it so many times. We’ve scored eight-, nine-goal quarters. And, at halftime, that’s what we were talking about doing. We just had to really come together,” Simon said. “I think we partially came together. Defense and offense started playing better, more unselfish. But at the end, we just couldn’t make it happen. We’re excited to have a couple more games and prove ourselves.”

The Wildcats are making their first state tournament appearance since 2018. Simon noted how special this week is for Eagan after narrowly missing out a year ago after a four-overtime section final loss to Cretin-Derham Hall.

“I think it means a lot for our coaches and all the players here, especially the 16 seniors, who this is it for them. This is our last run,” Simon said. “So we’re really excited to be here, excited to prove that Eagan lacrosse can hang with all these other boys.”

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