John's Journal
Lacrosse Lightning In A Bottle: Eastview’s Big Two Lead The Way 6/5/2012
After his team won a big game Tuesday night and advanced to the state championship contest, Eastview boys lacrosse coach Tim Roche talked about one key component – or maybe two key components -- of his team.

“We thought all year we had the No. 1 and No. 2 best players in the state,” Roche said, talking about senior Jacob Heppner and junior Ryan McNamara, who just happen to own two of the game’s most prestigious awards.

Heppner was named this season’s Mr. Lacrosse by the state coaches association and the St. Paul Pioneer Press has named McNamara its player of the year. That’s a pretty tough combination to beat, as all but one of the Lightning’s opponents have discovered this season.

Tuesday evening’s 15-6 victory over Edina at Chanhassen High School pushed Eastview’s record to 15-1. The lone loss was a 9-8 decision against Lakeville North; the Lightning avenged that defeat with a 9-5 win over Lakeville North in the Section 4 playoffs.

McNamara (right) was the star of Tuesday’s game, finishing with four goals and four assists. Three of his goals came in the third quarter, when Eastview outscored Edina 5-1 to open an 11-5 lead.

“He’s a great player,” Roche said of McNamara. “He’s been doing that all year for us. He’s a complete player, he can put the ball in the net, he makes his teammates better. He did a great job of making his teammates better today.”

Heppner assisted on McNamara’s third goal and scored Eastview’s final goal unassisted before hobbling off the field with an injured ankle.

“On that last goal I kind of rolled it a little bit but it’ll be all right,” he said with a bag of ice taped to his right ankle.

Roche said of Heppner, “He brings veteran leadership. He’s righthanded but we put him in spots where he’s lefthanded a lot, so over half his goals this year are with his left hand. He’s right up there, top 10 in goals and top 10 in assists in the state. The Mr. Lacrosse award recognizes what he’s doing and how he’s doing it.”

Roche has been Eastview’s coach throughout the varsity program’s six-year history. This is the Lightning’s fourth appearance in the state tournament; their best finish was runner-up to Minnetonka in 2009. None of the current players were on that team.

Last season ended with Eagan beating Eastview in overtime in section play. Ever since that day, the Lightning’s No. 1 goal has been getting to state and taking home a championship trophy.

“It’s what we’ve been working for,” Heppner (left) said. “Now we’ve got one more game to finish it.”

Top-seeded Eastview will meet No. 3 seed Eden Prairie in Thursday’s championship game at Chanhassen. The Eagles advanced with a 15-2 victory over Totino-Grace in Tuesday’s second semifinal. Brooks Armitage made a pretty significant statement, scoring five goals for Eden Prairie.

Eden Prairie has never won a state title in three championship-game appearances. The Eagles lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in the inaugural 2007 title game, to Blake a year later and to Benilde-St. Margaret’s last year.

If Eastview is to win its first title on Thursday, McNamara and Heppner will have a great deal to do with the outcome. I asked each of them to describe the other.

“There are not too many people who are better than that kid,” Heppner said of McNamara. “He works harder than anyone I know and that’s why he’s so good. In lacrosse, lifting or conditioning he’s always the hardest worker. Playing alongside that kid is nice because you’ve got someone to back you up if you’re not doing well.”

Conversely, McNamara said Heppner has “speed, vision, he can go with both hands, he’s so quick he always finds seams to find me or Tanner (Hamill) wide open. He’s just got great vision.”

McNamara also spoke about Tuesday’s big victory, while looking toward Thursday.

“As a team we had a great game, probably one of our best,” he said. “But we can still play better.”

That’s a scary thought.

--To see a photo gallery from Tuesday's games, go to the MSHSL Facebook page.

*Schools/teams John has visited: 601
*Miles John has driven: 7,906

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
Baseball, Golf, Lacrosse, Tennis, Softball, Track … 6/4/2012
Take a few deep breaths, make sure your gas tank is full and pack a lunch ... and a dinner and maybe some snacks. This is the single busiest week of the year when you look at all the action taking place around the state in spring sports.

There are section tournaments in baseball, girls golf and boys golf as well as state tournaments for girls and boys lacrosse, boys tennis, softball and state girls and boys track. In other words, if you can’t find an event to attend this week you’re not looking very hard.

Section tournaments can be found on baseball diamonds and golf courses all over the state. State lacrosse tourney games will be played at Chanhassen High School, boys tennis at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center (Class 2A) and Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis (Class 1A), all three classes of softball will be played at Caswell Park in North Mankato and the two-class state track meet will be held at Hamline University’s Klas Field in St. Paul.

The weather is always a factor, but so far the forecast for this week looks excellent. I always have an umbrella in my car, but hopefully we won’t need any such equipment this week. The biggest issue for me when the schedule is so packed with big events is trying to figure out where to be.

I sat down Sunday evening with a calendar, the tournament schedules, a Minnesota highway map and an Ouija Board and tried to come up with a tentative plan. At this early point in the week, this is what I came up with…

Monday: Baseball.
Tuesday: Tennis and lacrosse.
Wednesday: Tennis and lacrosse.
Thursday: Softball, tennis and lacrosse.
Friday: Track and softball.
Saturday: Track.

My driving plan looks something like this: Minneapolis to Chanhassen to Minneapolis to Chanhassen to Mankato to Chanhassen to St. Paul to Mankato to St. Paul. I think.

I’ll be posting frequent updates and photos throughout the week on Twitter (follow @MSHSLjohn), with photo galleries and tidbits going up on the MSHSL Facebook page.

Honk when you see me driving by!

*Schools/teams John has visited: 597
*Miles John has driven: 7,846

--Join the MSHSL on Facebook by clicking on the Facebook button on the right side of John Millea is on Twitter @MSHSLjohn
State Lacrosse Pairings Are Set6/2/2012
The coaches of the teams involved in the girls and boys state lacrosse tournaments completed the electronic seeding procedure Saturday morning, finalizing the pairings for the state tournaments.

Boys semifinals will be held Tuesday and girls semifinals will be played Wednesday, with third-place and championship games on Thursday. All games will be held at Chanhassen High School.

The top seeds are the Eastview boys and Eden Prairie girls. Here are the tournament schedules...

Boys Lacrosse State Tournament
Tuesday’s Semifinals
6 p.m.: #1 seed Eastview (14-1) vs. #4 seed Edina (7-9-1)
8 p.m.: #2 seed Totino-Grace (13-3) vs. #3 seed Eden Prairie (14-2)
Thursday’s Games
Third-place game at 6 p.m.
Championship game at 8 p.m.

Girls Lacrosse State Tournament
Wednesday’s Semifinals
6 p.m.: #1 seed Eden Prairie (16-0) vs. #4 seed Apple Valley (13-4)
8 p.m.: #2 seed Blake (14-2) vs. #3 seed Stillwater (14-2)
Thursday’s Games
Third-place game at 2 or 4 p.m.
Championship game at 2 or 4 p.m.
Field Is Finalized For State Softball Tournament6/2/2012
The brackets are set for the state softball tournament, which will be held Thursday and Friday at Caswell Park in North Mankato. Congrats to all the teams who qualified.

Here are the quarterfinal matchups…

Class 1A
Eden Valley-Watkins (16-7) vs. Blooming Prairie (20-3)
Red Lake Falls (22-4) vs. New Ulm Cathedral (20-4)
Cherry (23-0) vs. Kerkhoven-Murdock-Sunburg (24-0)
Sebeka (21-4) vs. New Life Academy (16-7)

Class 2A
New Ulm (20-2) vs. Kasson-Mantorville (23-2)
Albany (19-1) vs. Maple River (18-7)
Hawley (16-3) vs. St. Anthony Village (22-3)
Mound Westonka (16-9) vs. Cloquet (13-9)

Class 3A
Stillwater (18-8) vs. Farmington (17-4)
Bloomington Jefferson (17-2) vs. Mankato East (24-3)
Big Lake (14-7) vs. Maple Grove (22-2)
Forest Lake (23-1) vs. Orono (23-1)
Boys State Tennis Tournament Is Ready To Roll6/2/2012
In a week packed with state tournaments, boys tennis will be contested at two sites in Minneapolis. The Class 2A competition will be held at the University of Minnesota Baseline Tennis Center and 2A will take place at Reed-Sweatt Family Tennis Center in south Minneapolis.

Team competiton will be held Tuesday and Wednesday, with singles and doubles matches taking place Thursday and Friday.

Here are the team brackets…

Class 1A Quarterfinals
Breck vs. Duluth Marshall
Blake vs. Thief River Falls
Mound Westonka vs. Fergus Falls
Rochester Lourdes vs. Luverne

Class 2A Quarterfinals
Eden Prairie vs. Wayzata
Rochester Mayo vs. Eagan
Maple Grove vs. Elk River
Mahtomedi vs. St. Cloud Tech