May 18, 2023 at 3:56 p.m.
‘Cats get monkey off their back with close win over Wolfpack
Chisago Lakes 9 Duluth 6
The Wildcat boys lacrosse team finally got over a big hurdle against the Wolfpack of Duluth on Tuesday, May 9 with an away win at Duluth East.
Over the last three years of competition, the Wildcats were 0-3 against Duluth, losing by a total of six goals in those games, including an 11-10 loss last year, an 8-7 loss the year prior and a 10-6 loss in 2019 before COVID.
“Duluth has been a tough opponent for several years and we've had some great games with them,” Head Coach Mark Nordby said. “It was a solid team win for the guys against a quality program like Duluth. They’ve always had a high pressure defense that presses way out. The defense is well coached and with excellent stick checking skills. To beat them, we knew we'd have to handle the pressure.”
Duluth scored the first goal with Logan Lian putting one past the ‘Cats after being left wide open on the right side of the goal. Nordby said the ‘Cats had a bit of a defensive breakdown and lost track of Lian, who is Duluth’s top scorer.
Faceoff specialist Mason Mehsikomer tied things up just a few seconds later, though, with a faceoff win the preceeded him taking the ball all the way down for a goal.
“Mas was a big factor in the game. Winning the ball at the faceoffs and putting three goals in was a difference maker for us,” Nordby explained. “Duluth did not have an answer for him.”
Still in the first quarter, junior Judah Goerhing dodged from top down the right wing to slam one past the Duluth goalkeeper after the ‘Cats had some issues with missing the net on their shots, so Nordby said it was a confidence booster when Goehring potted his first score of the game.
To open up the lead in the second quarter, sophomore Ben Kerkow dodged from in back of the net to the left and found senior Kadin Passerrati on the doorstep of the crease to dunk one in. Later in the quarter, Mehsikomer took another faceoff to the house to put the Wildcats up 4-1.
The ‘Cats gave one back to the Wolfpack after Finn Yates took the ball the length of the field for a long pole score.
“We didn't get the 'fire' call in time to slide to him,” Nordby said of the defensive breakdown. “That gave Duluth a bit of a lift going into halftime.”
In the third quarter, Chisago Lakes able to put two goals in by Passerrati and Kerkow, both assisted by senior Ari Phillips. Nordby noted how well the attackmen have worked together this year on offense.
Chisago Lakes got another goal in the third quarter off one more faceoff win and score by Mehsikomer, and the lead swelled to 7-2. But, Duluth netted the next two goals to get within three before the third quarter was out.
“We got a little sloppy with the ball and let Duluth back in the game,” Nordby said. “A three point lead going into the fourth quarter can be dangerous.”
The final quarter was a nail biter, with Duluth trying to claw back into the game and the ‘Cats trying to eat up the clock. “We talked about possessing the ball,” the coach said. “As long as we keep the ball, they can't score.”
The Wildcats and Wolfpack exchanged two goals with scores by Wildcat seniors Dylan Dassner and Passerrati.
“It was a great team win. We had scoring from several players and our defense got the job done,” Nordby said.
Chisago Lakes 17 Becker 5
The Wildcats traveled to Becker for a soggy Friday night matchup with the Bulldogs of Becker.
Even though it was a blowout, Nordby saw plenty of value in the contest.”"We haven't played a game in wet conditions plus a grass field this spring so it was a bit of an adjustment,” he explained.
The ‘Cats were able to find the net 17 times while keeping the score to just five for the Bulldogs. “They got a couple of outside bounce shots in,” Coach Nordby explained. “The ball skips different off of a wet grass surface so those were tough to stop.”
The Wildcats’ moved to 8-0 with the two wins and now prepare for a very busy upcoming week. They have four games in a six day stretch, starting with a home match up against Sartell on Thursday, May 18.
They’ll head out west to take on Rocori on Friday, May 19 before hosting Big Lake/Princeton and St. Michael-Albertville on back-to-back days on Monday, May 22 and Tuesday, May 23.