After giving up three goals in the first five minutes, Benilde-St. Margaret's senior goaltender Brooke Nelson steeled her mind.
A first-team All-Metro selection, Nelson has been a stalwart in goal for the Red Knights for six years. It was time for her to be her typically excellent self.
Nelson stood tall for the rest of the match, guiding Benilde-St. Margaret's to an 11-10 victory over Edina in the girls lacrosse state championship game at Stillwater High School.
It was the first state championship-game appearance for both teams.
"I just had to realize I had to make a big save," Nelson said. "Once you make the first one, the rest will follow. And I to get in that zone."
Goalie in lacrosse is a thankless position, saves often hard to come by. But Nelson proved Saturday that she has the position figured out.
She made numerous big stops in the first half, helping BSM (17-2) rally for a 4-3 lead. In the second half, when speedy Edina again made a strong run to take a 9-7 lead, Nelson backstopped a Red Knights defense that shut down the Hornets for 10 minutes.
In the meantime, Benilde-St. Margaret's junior attacker Maggie Graczyk shed her playmaker role and began to seek openings in the Edina shell. Graczyk scored three goals to spark a four-goal rally that turned a 9-7 deficit into an 11-9 lead.
"We always talk about staying composed, playing together and trusting each other," said Red Knights coach Ana Bowlsby about her team's penchant for erasing deficits. "We needed to take a deep breath, relax and wait for things to develop. We've been in a hole before, in the section championship. And it was like 'Hey, calm down, we're fine.'"
Bowlsby wasn't surprised that it was Graczyk that came through in the second half, feeling opponents had a tendency to overlook her.
"She's our point guard on the attack," Bowlsby said. "For a while, they seemed to forget about her. But she's truly like a coach on the field."
When she first started playing lacrosse as a seventh grader, Nelson saw a team that had a long way to go to reach the level they aspired to. Now, she's a champion.
"This program has made a complete 180," Nelson marveled. "We were below .500 my first year and now we're state champs. It's unbelievable."
Mary Velner scored four goals to lead Edina (16-3).