Wildcats roll into lacrosse semifinals

First-half blitz puts away Lakeville North

Eagan goalie John Courington races upfield with the ball after making a save against Lakeville North in the state boys lacrosse quarterfinals Tuesday. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com

Eagan’s transition game opened the spigot, and Lakeville North couldn’t turn it off before the Panthers had been doused with nine consecutive goals.

That turned a one-goal deficit into an eight-goal lead as the Wildcats won 19-8 in the state boys lacrosse quarterfinals Tuesday at Chanhassen High School. Eagan (16-1), the No. 1 seed and seeking its first state championship, will play Mahtomedi in the semifinals at 5 p.m. Thursday at Minnetonka High School.

The Wildcats trailed North 1-0 and 3-2 in the first quarter before establishing their fast-breaking style.

“At the beginning we were all kind of running around,” said junior attackman Joeseph Diffley, one of four Eagan players with three or more goals. “They were looking really good. Coach called a timeout and he said, ‘Boys, let’s get back to our game.’

“Our style is pretty unconventional. We just try for the best looks and if they’re there, we shoot it. We have some pretty good shots on our team.”

Sometimes the Wildcats don’t even need to look where they’re shooting. One of Brandon Wuertz’s four goals was on a behind-the-head flick in the third quarter with the Wildcats already up to 10.

Isaac Peifer and Darby Sorensen also had hat tricks for the Wildcats, and Aaron Propson scored twice. In one stretch from late in the first quarter through early in the third, Eagan outscored Lakeville North 13-1.

The Wildcats’ prolific offense was the reason coach Bob Felter wasn’t stressing over a slow start.

“We just got in our own way a little bit. We weren’t doing things we normally do,” Felter said. “And (Lakeville North) played well. It was on us, but part of the problem was the way they were playing. Our kids might have been a little nervous in the beginning of the game, but we’ve been down before.”

Robby Gale had a hat trick and Jordan Knuth scored twice for Lakeville North (9-8). The Panthers, making their fourth consecutive appearance at state, will play Prior Lake in a consolation semifinal at 1 p.m. Thursday at Minnetonka High.

Mahtomedi defeated Prior Lake 13-12, scoring two goals in the final minute of the game, to earn the spot opposite Eagan in the semifinals. The winner will play Benilde-St. Margaret’s or Wayzata in the state final at 6 p.m. Saturday at Chanhassen High.

Mahtomedi “has a really big, strong kid at the (faceoff spot), and offensively they have some really nice shooters,” Felter said. “The keys to this game are faceoffs and goalies, and we’re good in both of those places.”

The Wildcats’ confidence remains high as they continue their march toward a state championship. “We definitely like our odds, but you never want to say you have it in the bag,” Diffley said.