Andover boys’ lacrosse was primed for a strong run through sections and perhaps its first trip to state.
The Huskies entered the final week of the regular season 9-1 but lost the final three games to very good programs, Anoka, Champlin Park and Owatonna, before starting play in Section 7.
No. 2 Andover shutout No. 7 Coon Rapids 13-0 at Huskies Stadium May 28 before rival No. 3 Blaine ended the season in an 11-8 semifinal score May 30.
Nicholas McCready had a game-high five points against Coon Rapids while teammates Anthony Banack and Adam Wiczek had four points each (two goals, two assists).
Lucas Harmon added a pair of goals while Evan Olson and Lucas Jackson each had two points.
Goalie Ryan Olson made 11 saves for his first shutout of the season. He finished the season with 187 saves and a .687 saves percentage in 14 games.
Blaine had four goals from John Hicke and two goals each from Nic Simpson and C. Stenstrom in the close win against Andover.
No. 3 seeded Blaine opened sections with a huge 17-1 win over No. 6 Forest Lake at Bengals Stadium May 28.
Hicke once again led the way with six points including a hat trick. Charlie Stenstrom and Easton Brodzinski also had a hat trick in the positive start to sections.
“The way it was rewarding was for the boys to experience another win considering how much work and adversity they have been through this season,” Blaine coach Josh Swart said, where the focus in the section opener was nothing new. “Just to build off the systems and ideas we have worked on all season.”
Hicke is the scoring leader with 50 points so far this season and 11 points (7 goals) in two section games.
Stenstrom is second on the team with 32 points including two goals and five assists in sections.
Blaine uncharacteristically struggled during the regular season with three wins coming off a 13-2 record the previous season with 18 seniors.
With nearly two dozen players from last year’s squad graduating, it wouldaffect any varsity program the next season and Blaine was no different.
“We knew that losing 18 guys … to graduation, junior hockey and injury was going to make it more challenging than hoped,” Swart said. “We also knew we have some solid returners.”
Now Blaine is back in a section final where longtime rival Champlin Park stands in the way of a trip to state.
The Rebels won the lone meeting this season 10-3.
“I feel the boys are fully motivated,” Swart said after the team lost four matches by two goals or less during the regular season. “We have solid senior leadership that doesn’t seem to be interested in being done.
“We lost a few we would like to have back, but it has been a learning experience for us to know the level we need to play at for four quarters.”
Panthers finish 6-7
Spring Lake Park led Centennial 5-4 at halftime of its Section 7 quarterfinal game May 28 but couldn’t match that output in the second half, losing 9-7 to end the season.
Drew Nelson led the Panthers with four points including a hat trick and Macabe Stariha had three points (two goals) while goalie Blake Johnson made 22 saves. Nelson and Stariha, both juniors, were the leading scorers all season with 48 and 41 points, respectively. Stariha scored 31 goals compared to Nelson’s 30 goals. J.T. Hirschi had a team-high 47 ground balls and Nelson had 41 and Anthony Kromvig had 40.
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