Nick’s Notebook: State lacrosse quarterfinal holds different significance for Lakeville North in 2015

CREDIT: Jim Lindquist
CREDIT: Jim Lindquist

The Lakeville North boys’ lacrosse team took the lacrosse world by surprise in 2014. The Panthers won Section One for the first time in the program’s history with only two seniors on the roster with the team having little idea what the young talent would develop into.

No matter what happened in the state tournament, Lakeville North’s season would be considered a success. But, an 11-9 victory over state tournament-tested Blake proved to only strengthen the underdog story of the 2014 Panthers.

This season, however, Lakeville North isn’t considered an underdog and the quarterfinal game vs. the Bears is only a steppingstone to its bigger goal: a state championship.

Yet, the Panthers aren’t about to get too far ahead of themselves.

“We know we’ve got ourselves a battle and we certainly will not overlook Blake, that’s for sure,” Wright said. “Our kids are focused and ready to bring their game to the next level.”

This Lakeville North team wants more than a first round victory and a state championship is much more feasible this year for a team that now has state tournament experience.

Goaltender grudge match

This is a Blake team that Lakeville North can beat, but one player will make a victory difficult to attain for the Panthers.

Nick Washuta, a 6 foot 3 goaltender, received All-American recognition for his play in 2015 and verbally commited to the University of Vermont last summer. The junior goaltender is a big reason why the Blake Bears finished 8-4 with narrow losses coming to top-ranked teams such as Prior Lake, Eden Prairie and Bloomington Jefferson. Washuta finished the regular season with the best save percentage in the state at .706.

The Panthers are well aware of Washuta’s stout goaltending and are prepared to bring their arsenal of offensive scorers led by their own All-American, senior attack Roman Rohrbach.

But, on the other end of the field will be goaltender Bryce Bouman who Wright calls “the backbone” of Lakeville North. The senior goaltender committed to Ohio Northern University and is a three-year varsity starter with state experience.

The Panthers will need Bouman to be at his best in order to find success in the goaltender grudge match.

Formula for success in 2014 translates to 2015

Wright and the Lakeville North coaching staff aren’t afraid to divulge their game plan for the contest vs. Blake.

Minimize penalties and divvy up the scoring.

This game plan worked against the Bears last year and the Panthers plan to perfect these two aspects of their game on Tuesday.

The Panthers had a season-low six turnovers in the victory over Blake and eight Lakeville North players scored.

Feeling that both the minimization of turnovers and having a multitude of scorers led them to victory last year, the Panthers look to play on Tuesday just as they did throughout 2015.

“We spread the points around and we relied on our entire offense to score (this season),” Wright said.

Despite the familiarity with both Blake and what it takes to win, Lakeville North plans to enjoy every moment of the game.

“We don’t want to take anything for granted,” Rohrbach said. “We want to just be ready for anything and be as successful as possible.”

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