By Matthew Davis
Champlin Park took third in the state last year for boys lacrosse, and they bring back a core of players from that team.
In 2013, the Rebels took third by beating White Bear Lake 9-5 at state. The Rebels hope to build on last year’s 15-3 showing and do something they have not done yet.
“We have never won our conference and that is a goal of ours this season,” Rebels coach Eric Borer said. “Blaine, Maple Grove, Armstrong, Anoka are usually all very good opponents and make for great rivalry games.”
Six seniors return for the Rebels, which includes goalie Bryce Plunkett. He had the third-best save percentage in the state last season at .684 in net while giving up 5.5 goals per game.
Three senior defenders will back up Plunkett. Cole Groebner, Evan Schraut and Matt Steenerson all do well at getting ground balls and creating turnovers.
Schraut reigned as the team’s ground ball king with 76 during the 2013 season, and caused 23 turnovers. He earned all-state and all-tournament honors.
Groebner also earned all-state honors with 46 ground balls and 27 force turnovers last season. Steenerson picked up 25 ground balls and cause 17 turnovers.
Luke Dalman comes back for the Rebels’ midfield where he scored 29 goals and assisted on 15. Senior attack Max Turgeon will also give the navy-and-silver a big offensive lift if he matches last season’s 30 goals and nine assists.
Though a considerable the amount offensive punch returns, the Rebels will have big holes to fill on offense this season. Mr. Lacrosse finalist Ryan McNeil graduated after his 97-point season. All-state long stick midfielder Cody Schmitt also graduated.
“We need to replace about 130 points that graduated last season,” Borer said. “Two juniors and a sophomore will likely start at the attack position.”
Otherwise, the Rebels have strong defense and goaltending, which will keep them in games. All of the junior midfielders also give the Rebels depth at the position.
The navy-and-silver will open their season at Centennial on April 23 at 7 p.m. Borer had them start later this year since winter weather tampered with their schedule early on.
“We learned our lesson last season after cancelling three scrimmages and rescheduling two games,” Borer said.
After the Centennial game, stakes go up quickly for the Rebels. The navy-and-silver will take on Eastview on April 26 and Blaine on April 28. The Rebels fell to the Lightning at the 2013 state tournament in the semifinals. In two games with the Bengals, the Rebels split with their conference foes in one-point contests last year, including a 12-11 overtime win.
The 10-9 loss to the Bengals early in the 2013 season prevented the Rebels from winning the Northwest Suburban Conference. After that loss, the Rebels ran the table in the NWSC.
More key games in May will come the Rebels’ way with Bloomington Jefferson on May 10, Maple Grove on May 12 and Wayzata on May 23.
Contact Matthew Davis at firstname.lastname@example.org