With only a handful of games left in the regular season, Blaine boys’ lacrosse head coach Josh Swart is ready for his team to make a push for a strong finish, in hopes of a section championship.
After Saturday’s 16-2 blowout win over Section 4 rival Hill-Murray, the Bengals improved their overall record to 8-2 heading into Monday’s road game at Coon Rapids.
The win over the Pioneers came on the heels of a 12-7 win on May 9 over Osseo/Park Center. The two-game winning streak ended a mini-skid where the team dropped its only two games of the season with consecutive losses 10-9 to number six-ranked Mahtomedi and 15-7 to a high scoring Champlin Park Rebels team.
“It’s always fun to be undefeated,” said Swart, describing the seasons 6-0 start. “I think you can do a lot of learning from losing, too. We lost to a couple really good teams in Champlin Park and Mahtomedi. The one-goal loss to Mahtomedi was tough because we were close, but our guys found out they could play with one of the top teams in the state.”
Leading the charge this season has been a relative newcomer to the varsity squad in junior attacker Eric Zickermann. Through the first 10 games, Zickermann leads the team in scoring with 45 points on 14 goals and 31 assists.
Zickermann sat most of last year behind three all-conference seniors, but this season has made the most of his opportunity and has become the Bengals’ top playmaker.
“He’s been our best attack man,” Swart said. “I think being able to sit and watch most of last year helped his game to where it’s at this season.”
Junior midfielder Mac Nadeau is one of the top returning players this season and his 25 goals leads the Bengals’ offense. Nadeau has 34 points and senior midfielder Conlan Meade has added 19 goals and 27 points.
The Bengals are one of the better teams in the league when it comes to defense. Six times this season they have been able to hold their opponents to seven goals or less.
The return of all-conference junior goalie Brenden Nadeau is a big reason for their stingy defense. Nadeau has a 7-2 record this year with a 63-percent save percentage. Junior Austin Nastrom saw playing time as well picking up a win against Elk River/Rogers/Zimmerman.
“We have a really good goalie in Austin, but it’s pretty much Brenden’s job in net,” Swart said. “We’ve had a few rocky games this season on defense where Brenden came up with some huge saves for us. He’s played really well for us.”
Swart credits strong play from his defensive unit. Junior defensemen Tyler Maki, Cody Johnson, Zac Sonterre and Jesse Norling have shined from the back end and Swart said both Sonterre and Norling were instrumental in their win over the Pioneers, in which they held Hill-Murray leading scorer Sam Becker in check.
“We came ready to play against Hill-Murray,” Swart said. “We really concentrated well on our spacing and movement on offense and defensively, both Sonterre and Norling were able to shutdown their best player.”
Results of Monday’s Bengals game with Coon Rapids were unavailable. Thursday the team hosts Maple Grove before closing the season against White Bear Lake.
The Bengals look for redemption against the Bears, as last season they lost in the Section 4 championship game 11-10 to White Bear Lake. It was the second consecutive year the Bengals were ousted in the section championship game as Totino-Grace ended their season in 2010 with an 8-4 victory.
“You try and schedule tough teams like Maple Grove and White Bear Lake towards the end on purpose,” Swart said. “Our goal is to win out and finally make it to the state tournament. We have some tough teams like Mahtomedi, White Bear Lake and Stillwater in our section, but I think this team has what it takes to finally make it to state.”
Blaine girls’ lacrosse edges Osseo/PC
The Blaine girls’ lacrosse team won a high scoring affair May 9 defeating Osseo/Park Center 16-15.
It was the Bengals third win of the season. Earlier in the year they defeated Becker 9-6 and Andover 11-5. They had an overall record of 3-7 prior to Monday’s game with Coon Rapids.
Senior midfielder Cailin Bourdeaux is enjoying a career year offensively scoring a team-high 33 goals and 38 points. Senior forward Michaela Ward is second with 15 goals and seniors Kayle Julin and Elizabeth Bruder each have 10 goals.
Junior goalie Shaina Gillman has posted three wins in goal this season.
Blaine finishes the regular season with a game today (Friday) at Irondale.
The section 4 playoffs begin May 21 where the Bengals look to improve on last year’s first-round 12-11 loss to White Bear Lake.