Benilde-St. Margaret's reached the last five boys lacrosse state title games and faced Prior Lake the past four consecutive years, winning the most recent two meetings. The Red Knights also defeated the Lakers 15-9 on April 27, part of the 48-game winning streak they rode into Thursday's state tournament semifinal.
Familiarity and repeated failures bred contempt. Prior Lake entered the game eager to get one back. A stunning 9-7 upset victory at White Bear Lake High School proved the Lakers' intentions.
"We wanted it more than they did, and it showed today," said junior attackman Jack Tocko, who tallied the game's final goal. "We weren't backing down."
Junior Max Anderson's goal gave No. 4 seed Prior Lake (14-4) an 8-6 lead with 10:08 remaining.
No. 1 seed Benilde-St. Margaret's (17-1) battled back to draw within one on Dylan Parker's goal with 2:14 remaining. Then Tocko took advantage of a Red Knights defensive scramble, filling an inadvertent empty net with 39.8 seconds left. He finished with four goals.
"I can't believe it," Tocko said. "It felt like we won the championship, but we didn't. We have a big game with Lakeville North."
The Lakers advance to the championship game at 6 p.m. Saturday at Stillwater High School. In their previous meeting with the Panthers this season, the Lakers lost 19-12.
Losing is something new for Red Knights senior long-stick midfielder Caio Stephens, previously undefeated in his stellar varsity career.
"Everyone loses sometimes in sports," Stephens said. "When that day comes, you have to shake their hands and say, 'Good game.'"