Boys lacrosse: South Suburban looking to maintain its stronghold

Three of top five teams in 2016 state tourney were from SSC

Nick Klotz of Farmington takes a shot at the Owatonna goal during the Tigers' 14-6 victory last Friday. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com
Nick Klotz of Farmington takes a shot at the Owatonna goal during the Tigers’ 14-6 victory last Friday. Photo by Jim Lindquist/sidekick.smugmug.com

Can the South Suburban Conference be as dominant in boys lacrosse in 2017 as it was in 2016? Answers should start coming next Tuesday, when the conference schedule begins.

Last year both teams in the state championship game were from the SSC (Prior Lake defeated Lakeville North for the championship), and the consolation champion (Eagan) also was from the South Suburban. Several other teams, including Eastview, Rosemount and Lakeville South, were knocking on the door of the state tourney.

Here’s an early look at the eight Dakota County teams in South Suburban boys lacrosse:

Apple Valley

Coach: Phil Hutcheson.

Last season: 7-8 overall, lost in first round of Section 6 playoffs.

2017 so far: 0-1 after 12-3 loss to Shakopee on Tuesday.

Upcoming: home against Holy Angels at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday.

Outlook: Four of last year’s top five scorers graduated, so developing offense figures to be a priority for Hutcheson, a new head coach. Junior Sam Kotsonas returns in goal.

Burnsville

Coach: Cory Childs.

Last season: 2-12 overall, lost in first round of Section 6 playoffs.

2017 so far: 1-1 after defeating Rochester Mayo 12-3 on Monday.

Upcoming: home against Park of Cottage Grove at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Outlook: The Blaze will get a chance to assess how much progress it’s made when defending state champion Prior Lake visits Tuesday night in the South Suburban Conference opener. The Blaze has put plenty of goals on the scoreboard so far – 25 in its first two games. Junior attackman Devin Delaney has seven goals in the first two games, and senior midfielder Mark Fesenmaier scored five against Rochester Mayo.

Eagan

Coach: Bob Felter.

Last season: 11-8 overall, won Section 3 championship, finished fifth in state tournament.

2017 so far: defeated St. Thomas Academy 18-10 in season opener Tuesday night.

Upcoming: at Apple Valley at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25.

Outlook: After finishing strong in 2016 (a 5-1 postseason record), the Wildcats will look to start strong in 2017. Five of the top seven scorers from last season, including scoring leader Brandon Wuertz, are back. Midfielder Darby Sorenson and defender Owen Pixler are captains, as is goalie Mitchell Vrieze.

Eastview

Coach: Tim Roche.

Last season: 10-4 overall, reached Section 6 semifinals.

Upcoming: season opener at Rochester Century at 7:30 p.m. Thursday.

Outlook: The 2016 Lightning owned regular-season victories over Prior Lake and Lakeville North, the teams that eventually played in the state championship game. This year, expectations are high. Returnees include senior attackman Noah Lindner and junior defender Porter Awad. Seniors Noah Joseph and Tyler Hanson, along with junior midfielder Joe Stillings, should provide plenty of offense.

Farmington

Coach: Kevin Dunnigan.

Last season: 8-8 overall, reached Section 1 semifinals.

2017 so far: 2-0 after 12-7 victory over East Ridge on Tuesday.

Upcoming: home against Rosemount at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, April 25.

Outlook: The Tigers’ first two South Suburban games are against state powers Rosemount and Lakeville North. Both are at Tiger Stadium, so that should help. Senior midfielder Tyler Wenck had a seven-point game (two goals, five assists) in the season opener against Owatonna. Tommy Carey, another senior, should help anchor the defense.

Lakeville North

Coach: Jeff Wright.

Last season: 16-3 overall, won South Suburban and Section 1, finished second in state tournament.

2017 so far: defeated Chanhassen 10-7 in season opener Tuesday.

Upcoming: at Eastview at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday,
April 25.

Outlook: After losing several top scorers, including Mr. Lacrosse winner Luke Anderson, from last year’s team, the Panthers might be seen as vulnerable. They will try to prove otherwise with returnees such as senior midfielders Robby Gale and Dylan Valentini and junior defender Brent Hauck, all captains. Starting goalie Drew Bouman returns and also is a captain.

Lakeville South

Coach: Hank Marotske.

Last season: 9-7 overall, reached Section 1 championship game.

Upcoming: at Northfield at 6 p.m. Thursday, at Holy Angels at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Outlook: The Cougars are a relatively young team with seven seniors, but several of them played key roles last season, including Burk Substad and Sam Bakken, who were among the scoring leaders. Junior midfielder David Byers is another scoring threat. The Cougars have to break in a new goalie as both of last year’s varsity goalies graduated.

Rosemount

Coach: Lance Kuehn.

Last season: 12-3 overall, reached Section 3 semifinals.

2017 so far: defeated Cretin-Derham Hall 12-5 in season opener Tuesday.

Upcoming: home against Tartan at 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Outlook: With huge numbers in the youth program, Rosemount has become a team that can’t be ruled out in the South Suburban, or the section. It’s a young team, though; 14 of the 24 players on the varsity/JV roster are sophomores or freshmen. Chris Giere, a senior, will lead the attack.