On a daily basis, I scan a whole bunch of high school athletic schedules and calendars in an attempt to make plans. Some plans are down the road a week or two or three and some are immediate. The latter was the case Wednesday, with predictions of snow on May Day.
I assumed that baseball and softball games would be wiped out by the rain that fell most of the day, and this assumption turned out to be accurate. My thoughts turned to lacrosse, with the realization that lacrosse players are rough and ready when the conditions are far from perfect. The Suburban East Conference had a full slate of boys lacrosse games on Wednesday’s docket, but one stood out: Forest Lake at Hastings.
That game stood out because it was going to be played on natural grass. The Hastings lacrosse field, on the grounds of the high school, is bare bones (no bleachers, no scoreboard) and I guessed it would be a perfect setting for what I envisioned: Lacrosse in the snow and the mud and the muck.
And boy oh boy did I get what I wanted. The teams from Forest Lake and Hastings played Wednesday evening under conditions that could be called “tolerable” by some and “brutal” by others. Heavy, wet snow mixed with raindrops covered everything – and everyone – in wet soup.
“It was pretty bad,” said Hastings coach Brian Jenson. “We had to deal with it.”
The MVPs (Most Valuable Plowers) were a couple of fathers who used snow shovels to repeatedly clear the sidelines and center line so the players and officials could see where the ball was. It wasn’t easy.
Sam McGree, Andrew Cordell and Colin Shoen each scored twice to lead Hastings to a 9-8 victory. But for both teams, the outcome won’t be as memorable as the conditions.
“We weren’t sure how the weather was really going to affect the game,” said Jenson. “We knew it was probably going to be a little sloppy, it would be wet, we would be slipping around. We made sure to just say, ‘Be careful on defense, be ready to step in if a guy falls, and we can move the ball a lot easier than moving our feet in these conditions.’ ”
As the game wore on, the moisture kept falling and everyone – including spectators – got wetter and wetter and colder colder. The scorers table was protected somewhat by a portable roof tent, and a small heater was placed on the table under the tent. At halftime, players held their hands and the inside of their gloves over the heater.
“The biggest affect it had on the guys was when their gloves got wet,” Jenson said. “Holding those metal sticks, their hands got really cold, really fast. After halftime we had the guys on the sideline keep moving, we rotated them in, we had a lot of rotations to try to keep the blood flowing. The big thing, too, was everyone was having a lot of issues but the other team was going through the same thing.”
Jenson is a 2003 Hastings graduate who played lacrosse at St. John’s University and also is the head coach of the men’s club lacrosse team at St. Olaf College. He said he has played and coached college games in similar conditions, but those were on artificial turf.
“That’s a little easier. It’s not muddy, especially right in front of the goal. Some of our kids haven’t had much experience with weather like that.”
After seeing three home games wiped out by previous bad weather, Wednesday’s game was the first at home for Hastings. And the Raiders looked sharp, wearing new white uniform tops ... even if the coach second-guessed that decision.
“I really wanted to wear our away uniforms so we didn’t get the white ones dirty,” Jenson said. “After the game, I told everyone to bring their uniforms home and ask their mom how to properly wash them.”
--See a photo gallery from the snow-swept lacrosse game on the MSHSL Facebook page.
BY THE NUMBERS
*Schools/teams John has visited: 614
*Miles John has driven in the Toyota Camry: 8,510
(*During the 2012-13 school year)
Follow John on Twitter: @MSHSLjohn