Crow River News Sports
If Mother Nature cooperates, Tuesday, April 16 will be a historic date for the St. Michael-Albertville girls’ lacrosse team.
After joining the lacrosse ranks as a club team in 2009, the Knights officially join the Minnesota State High School League this season, which is an open field that currently sits at 67 teams.
There are eight sections that make up the 67 MSHSL teams. STMA will compete its first season on an Independent schedule and compete with Anoka, Becker, Buffalo, Delano, Maple Grove, Wayzata, Elk River and St. Cloud Area all in Section 8.
Blake has won the girls state tournament three years in a row and four of the six years the MSHSL has sanctioned a state tourney. Eden Prairie is the only other school to have won the title, both coming in 2009 and 2007.
Despite being a first-year sanctioned program, STMA has plenty of experience with eight seniors on the roster. Senior captains Anna Churchill, Karissa Pazen and Makenzie Bebo were there when the team decided to sport a club team as freshmen.
“It’s real exciting, we’ll be playing a lot tougher teams now,” Churchill said. “It’s finally nice to be recognized. I feel it’s more legit now.”
STMA head coach Jill Anderson first guided the ship in 2009 when it began as a club team. Five years later, she has 50 girls trying out and must narrow the varsity total to the required 24-man roster, prior to its first game April 16 against Mound Westonka.
“We actually have the bulk of our club team back that finished fourth at state,” Anderson said. “Delano, like us, is also new to the section. But talking to the other local teams, our numbers are a little bigger than both Elk River and Becker.”
Anderson said she would like to carry 18 regulars and six reserves on the varsity squad and divide the remaining girls between the junior varsity and C-Squad.
“From not being a school sport, we haven’t had as many girls come out,” Bebo said. “Now that it is, we have a lot of new people and a lot of new interest in us. It’s just nice to be recognized.”
Bebo will be a key player for the Knights and most likely will play defense and some forward. Along with Bebo, both Churchill and Pazen will offer plenty of experience from the front end.
Anderson also expects big things from sophomore Shaye Maetzold, who will see plenty of time from the forward position.
“She will be a key contributor,” Anderson said. “She played on the Lakers select team and will be one of our better attack players. She is really good at controlling the ball and running an offense.”
Other seniors on the team are Carly Walters, Halie Gudmonson, Katie DuPaul, Katie Torgerson-Wickre and Sydney Carlisle.
“The fact the seniors have come all the way from our freshman year as a club sport, until now as a recognized school sport is our strength,” Churchill said. “We’ve been through it all and there is definitely a team feeling.”
Walters and junior Sabrina Werth will likely split time this season in goal.
Other key players will be juniors; Alexia Dwinnell, Anne Marie Harald, Becky Panuska, Heidi Prebonich, Kayla Mager, Maia Rehovsky, Nikki Barthel, Rachel Bourget and sophomores Gabby Vetsch and Tori Barr.
STMA’s scheduled opener for this Thursday against St. Cloud Area was postponed. But the Knights have held scrimmages so far against Monticello, Owatonna and Eagan.
“I think we just need to be disciplined,” said Bebo, when asked what she thought of their team’s chances. “We’re as good as any other team out there.”
With lacrosse being a sport that mixes a blend of hockey, football and soccer all in one, it’s not unusual to see a total of 20 combined goals in a single game. A single game is made up of two 25-minute halves played in running time.
Bebo said one of the biggest challenges of the game is control.
“Keeping the ball in the stick is the biggest challenge,” Bebo said. “About 90-percent of the time the ball is on the field. So the biggest part is just catching and cradling.”
The Knights will play their home games at Community Ed Field.
“We’re shooting for a record of 75-percent or better,” Anderson said. “Our goal is to win that first round in sections. We have a lot of talented players, but we will have a tough battle trying to get past Wayzata.”