A pair of promising football seasons came to an end last Friday as Lakeville North and Prior Lake lost hours apart in the Class 5A state tournament.
In front of a jam-packed Metrodome crowd pressed into only about a portion of the facility's seats, neither team disappointed the masses, but came out on the short end of their respective games.
The loss was Lakeville North's lone defeat of the season, and it came on a last-second field goal by Cretin-Derham Hall's Zach Hager to give the Raiders a 25-22 victory. Totino-Grace then sent Prior Lake packing with a 21-17 victory in their game.
Puffy-eyed emotions ran high on the faces of players and coaches from both losing teams.
"This one's tough," Panthers coach Brian Vossen said. "But I'd rather lose it on a field goal than on a [long touchdown]. But I'm really proud of our team. The kids are outstanding. I just hope they walk away from this one game and remember the experience here. It's a special place to play."
Lakers coach Matt Gegenheimer echoed Vossen's remarks about his Prior Lake squad that had advanced to the school's first state football tournament.
In its loss, Prior Lake opted for a late field goal rather than risk going for the end zone on fourth down.
"I knew we would play well here," he said. "We've taken chances all year, and this time we tried to play it safe and [thought] we could win it in the end. A couple little details slipped by, and we couldn't get it done."
Defending volleyball champs fall in 5-set thriller
There also was heartbreak for Lakeville North in St. Paul last weekend as the Panthers' defending Class 3A state champion volleyball team lost a five-set thriller to Eden Prairie in this year's title match.
The teams battled to 32 tie scores, including seven in the fifth set alone. The Panthers fended off match-point four times before Eagles star Sarah Wilhite pounded home the winning kill.
The Panthers will lose a load of leadership from this year's team, but the cupboard will be far from bare next season. Sophomore Alyssa Goehner had a match-high 34 kills in the championship and added 38 digs.
In Class 2A, Jordan took third place with a 3-0 sweep over defending champion Wadena-Deer Creek.