As lacrosse continues to gain momentum as a spring sport, the level of competition continues to rise. New Coon Rapids coach Alex Urquhart returns to the program after graduating in 2010. He was a member of the first two Cardinal club-level teams. Blaine will look to regroup after graduating nearly two dozen players after reaching the section final.
Coach: Ken Weikel, fifth season
Outlook: Andover returns with five of the top six midfielders from last year, along with goalie Ryan Olson, for what should be a very strong squad again this spring.
Junior captain midfielder Adam Wiczek is the leading return player with 28 points (25 goals) and second-best for the Huskies last spring. He also was the main face-off taker, winning nearly 50 percent of the time.
Evan Olson had 12 points (10 goals) and 26 ground balls and Drew Michalski had 36 ground balls in 12 games.
Ryan Olsonposted a 6-7 record with a 7.92 goals against average and .591 saves percentage.
Seniors Ryan Olson, Evan Olson and Michalski will serve as captains and the team looks to improve on a 7-8 overall record. Andover finished ninth in the 10-team Northwest Suburban Conference with a 2-7 record.
Coach: Brad Sundem, third season
Outlook: Anoka hopes to build off its first section win in program history after losing only three starters to graduation.
Zach Eenhuis and Branton Fleischman return as four-year varsity starters. Along with three-year varsity startersShane Weigman and Jake Kocovsky this group of veterans will provide plenty of experienced leadership as senior captains.
Fleischman was one of the leaders in the state in ground balls (139) and Weigman was a top-10 scorer in the state with 44 points (38 goals).
The Tornadoes top face off taker Anthony Fritch who posted a 181-64 record graduated after last season.
Coach: Josh Swart, seventh season
Outlook: The defending Northwest Suburban Conference champions were upset in the Section 5 final by Champlin Park 12-11 and look to fill 18 spots on the varsity roster.
“If we are to succeed, it will be because we have a solid mix of upperclassmen leadership, paired with young, athletic players that are willing to work hard,” Swart said.
Senior Nic Simpson is the lone captain this spring after posting eight points (six goals) and 32 ground balls last season. Other seniors include Charlie Stenstrom, Touyer Moua, Andrew Houle, Sam Culshaw-Mauer and Jeremiah Strand.
Coach: Alex Urquhart, first season
Outlook: An all-new coaching staff, led by Class of 2010 Coon Rapids graduate Alex Urquhart, hopes to build on an 8-7 record last season that saw the Cardinals down Spring Lake Park in the section opener only to fall to perennial power Champlin Park.
“We are coming in with an entirely new staff this spring from head coach to volunteer coaches with a new mind set and game plan,” he said. “We are changing the way the team prepares and how it sees the game in general.”
Urquhart, 21, bets his team will be the best conditioned in the conference once the season begins.
“This team is coming in with a chip on its shoulder. A number of the players that are coming in are players that have been snubbed on varsity looks and have been more or less overlooked by everyone.”
Coon Rapids returns a number of players including third leading scorer Brett DeBaker (20 points), Garret Dey (six assists), Joe Rising (one assist) and sophomore Cameron Lessner.
Junior goalie Alec Hannah played eight minutes between two games last spring and made four saves on five shots.
That group will need to make up for a combined total of 90 points graduated in leading scorer Max Pohlson, Connor Kirkeide and Erik Svoboda.
Urquhart was part of the first two sanctioned Cardinal lacrosse programs before playing one and a half seasons at North Dakota State. He has coached at various levels for the last seven seasons including at Rogers.
Spring Lake Park
Coach: Jesse and Jason Kurtz, third season
Outlook: The Kurtz brothers enter season three of leading the Panthers with confidence the depth and experience in protecting the goal combined with youth and inexperience ready for their turn on the varsity stage.
Spring Lake Park was eliminated in the opening round of the six-team Section 7 tournament by Coon Rapids 14-5. The Cardinals also won a 12-11 game midway through the regular season but Spring Lake Park finished with 7-6 record.
Senior captains Tony Kromvig returns to stabilize the defense while fellow senior captain Blake Johnson returns to goal.
“We have a group of defenders and goalies that have played together for quite some time. They are hard workers and devoted,” Jesse Kurtz said. “Our players really love lacrosse. They love to be creative and they put in the work necessary to succeed.”
Johnson had an impressive spring and the coaches saw him improve during the summer not only between the pipes but in distributing the ball. “A big part of his game is clearing the ball,” Kurtz said.
Look for junior captain and attack-man Drew Nelson to provide the offensive spark with help from senior midfielder Dusty Aanerud-Voss to lead a young offensive group.
Jason Olson is at