Coach: Ken Weikel (fifth year on the staff, third as head coach)
Outlook: The entire coaching staff returns this season as the Huskies finished 7-7 and lost to Centennial 10-9 in the opening round of the Section 4 tournament.
Andover returns many key players including senior attack Jake Harmon, who was among the top 10 in points and goals scored last season. Junior defenseman Jared McComber is a vertical player who is offensive minded and led the state in scoring for a defenseman. Junior middie Jake Klockers looks for his third season of starting on the varsity team and senior defender Kyle Rudesill is another returning starter. Each is a captain.
“For us to make a state run, Harmon will have to be in the top five in state in points and we will need a goalie to distinguish himself from the group,” Weikel said.
Coach: Brad Sundem
Outlook: First-year head coach Brad Sundem steps into the lead role after four seasons as an assistant on the Tornadoes staff. Anoka returns all of its starters from a team that posted a 5-9 record and lost to Stillwater in the section opener.
“This is the year I have been waiting for to coach this team,” Sundem said.
Anoka has its most experienced group in the short history of the lacrosse program.
Senior captain Lane Kocovsky begins his fourth season on the varsity team along, with captains Landon Mathis (third season), Austin McNallan (second season) and Travis Weight (second season). Eyes are set on winning its first section game in program history and then moving along to what might be a first state tournament appearance.
“We do believe that we absolutely have the talent and experience to have a winning record and win our first-ever playoff game and then advance and build from there,” Sundem said. I am confident this will be the best year Anoka lacrosse has seen thus far.”
Sundem, who is 23 years old, also has a young staff made up two 23-year-olds and a 22-year-old. Jesse Penman, 23, is a fourth-year assistant at Anoka and a former All-State player. Two newcomers to the staff include Willie Barnett, 23, and Michael Jordan, 22, who both played in Cantonsville, Md.
Coach: Josh Swart
Outlook: Is this the year Blaine breaks through the section final for its first trip to the state tournament?
The Bengals compiled a 12-5 record last spring and once again lost in the section finals, this time to White Bear Lake 11-10.
The team returns many key contributors including Conlan Meade, Brenden Nadeau, Tyler Maki, Mac Nadeau and Eric Zickermann.
Coach Josh Swart opens his fifth season with Blaine after serving two seasons as an assistant coach on the staff at the University of Minnesota, Duluth, and his confidence about this group is high. “We expect to go to the state tournament for the first time in our program’s history,” he said. “In order for us to be able to do that, our new leaders will have to fill in the shoes of some extremely successful lacrosse players and lead by example.”
Look for Maple Grove and Champlin Park to challenge Blaine in the Northwest Suburban Conference, while three experienced programs in White Bear Lake, Mahtomedi and Hill-Murray stand in the way in the section race.
Coach: Dale Comer (first-year head coach, seven years on staff)
Outlook: The Cardinals are coming off a 4-10 season and lost in the opening round of sections in 2011.
Comer said the team has a number of new faces this spring and will have to take it one game at a time to build a winning tradition.
Spring Lake Park
Coach: Jason and Jesse Kurtz
Outlook:The Panthers are coming off a 9-6 record and a 10-4 loss to Mounds View in the section quarterfinals with a veteran group. They graduated their top three scorers who accounted for (108 points and 76 goals) in addition to stand-out goalie Brendon Edwards.
The Panthers return junior Sam Rethwill, who had 26 points (16 goals), and senior Andrew Frischmann, who had seven points (six goals). Rethwill was the top face-off man on the club winning 61 of 63 times.
New co-head coaches are Jason and Jesse Kurtz.
Compiled by Jason Olson