Seven years ago, they were fifth-grade girls in a nascent lacrosse program.

Three years ago, they were ninth graders in a first-year varsity program.

Now, 10 seniors from Lake Region High are state champions.

“It’s crazy,” said Lauren Jakobs. “It feels incredible.”

Jakobs scored a career-high seven goals to lead the top-seeded Lakers to a resounding 19-9 victory over No. 2 St. Dominic of Auburn on Friday night at Fitzpatrick Stadium in the inaugural Class C state championship.

The Lakers (13-2) needed double overtime a month ago to beat St. Dom’s (11-3) in their only previous meeting, in Naples. In that one, the Saints controlled most of the draws and used their quickness to scoop up the majority of ground balls.

On Friday night, that trend continued in the first half, with Lake Region being outdrawn 11-3. Three St. Dom’s goals in the final 50 seconds of the half made it 8-6 at intermission. The Lakers led, but entered halftime on their heels.

“That was a little demoralizing,” Lake Region Coach David Keenan said. “They’re a great team and we knew they could score at will. We just had to ratchet up our intensity in the second half.”

With Caroline Gastonguay (three goals) taking most of the draws for St. Dom’s, the Saints gained possession to open the second half. When they failed to convert, Lake Region took over. Lindsey Keenan scored from free position to make it 9-6. Avery Lutrzykowski (four goals) answered in similar fashion for St. Dom’s, but 9-7 was as close the Saints would get.

With help from seven consecutive successful draws, Lake Region dominated the rest of the game. Jakobs, Rachel Shanks and Melissa Bonenfant scored in a span of 76 seconds to make it 12-7. When St. Dom’s extended its defense in an attempt to regain possession, the Lakers took advantage.

“We’re really good at using the pressure to our advantage, just going right by them and scoring,” Jakobs said. “We did that a couple times and they were getting really frantic.”

Lindsey Keenan, face-guarded by Hannah Trottier-Braun for much of the early going, wound up with five assists and three goals. Shanks scored five times. Bonenfant had two goals and two assists. Freshmen Shauna Hancock and Mackenzie Siebert also scored.

“The other girls do a really good job of stepping up when Lindsey’s in that situation,” Jakobs said. “We have a play where I start at the top that was working well, and other cutters were open, so it’s not like we can’t score without Lindsey, but she is a huge part of it. I think when everyone else scored, they kind of got off Lindsey, because everyone else is a threat, too.”

Lake Region twice killed two-minute penalties in the first half for checks to the head and scored two goals with a player advantage after Gastonguay was sent off for the same infraction. Olivia Deschenes made a momentum-turning steal to set up the second goal, feeding Siebert in transition to put the Lakers ahead 5-2.

“Ever since we were little, we’ve always wanted this,” Deschenes said. “It means the world to be here.”

Glenn Jordan can be contacted at 791-6425 or:

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