MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.—In what has become the expectation during the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference Playoffs, Minnesota took on Duluth in the Division I Championship game. A stellar weekend of lacrosse was capped off with an intense rematch of UMN’s regular-season, triple-overtime win over UMD. Unfortunately, in their second match up, No. 25 Minnesota fell behind No. 17 Duluth in the fourth quarter, losing 8 to 11, and falling short of their first UMLC Championship since 2005. Despite a stinging loss in the championship, Minnesota has a lot to celebrate and look forward to in the future after their most successful season in the MCLA era. The number of University of Minnesota players included in the UMLC All-Conference Awards recognizes many of the individuals whose efforts culminated in wins and acclaim as a team.
2015 UMLC Individual Awards
Coach of the Year: Rich Limpert
In his third season at the helm, Head Coach Rich Limpert led Minnesota to a 10-9 record on the season pushing his program into the national rankings, voted on in the Under Armour MCLA Coaches Poll. After cracking the Top 25 at No. 24 in Week 2, The U stayed ranked throughout the rest of the season, jumping to No. 22 in Week 6 and ending the season at No. 25.
Offensive Player of the Year: Eric Fong
Eric Fong’s ability to direct the offense on the field, and lead his team off of it was recognized midseason as he was elected captain. In his role as the quarterback at attack Fong racked up 50 points (30 goals, 20 assists) on the season, career highs in goals and points for the junior out of Wayzata. He terrorized the UMLC, scoring 22 pts (12 g, 10 a) in 6 games versus conference opponents (3.66 pts/game). Career Distinctions: 2014 UMLC 2nd Team All-Conference Attack; 2013 UMLL 2nd Team All-Conference.
Rookie of the Year: Niklas Damberg
The freshman midfielder started off the year hot at the faceoff X, winning 19/19 against St. Cloud State. He would continue his dominance amongst Midwest teams, but his performance at the Lax Coaches for Cancer Event in Arizona sealed the freshman from Mounds View High School as a player to watch nationally. During the event he won 47/64 (73.4%) against some of the top teams in the nation: Brigham Young, San Diego State, and University of Arizona. Damberg won 164/220 faceoffs (74.5%) which is the highest season win percentage by any Minnesota player. The freshman also led the conference in ground balls with 89, also a Minnesota single season record. Career Distinctions: 2015 1st Team All-Conference FOS
1st Team All-UMLC
Nick Abbott, Attack: The sophomore from Eastview High School had a breakout year, scoring 61 points (33 g, 28 a) after recording only 5 g, 2 a in 2014. Abbott’s 61 points led the UMLC in goals, assists, and points, ranking him 24th nationally in total points.
Connor Gatenby, Midfield: The second year captain from Minnetonka High School was an impact player for Minnesota on offense and defense tallying 17 points (14 g, 3 a) and 26 Ground Balls on the season. Career Distinctions: 2014 Captain for Minnesota; 2012 GRLC Honorable Mention All-Conference Midfield at the University of Iowa.
Luke Bromback, Defense: The sophomore big man out of Stillwater scooped up 19 Ground Balls on the season, bolstering a very good defensive unit.
Matt Jorgensen, Goalie: The Florida transplant began the season splitting games, but took over full-time against San Diego after Senior Cody Komorouski went down with a season-ending injury. Jorgensen piled up 19 saves twice this season: in a loss against No. 9 San Diego State and a win against then No. 24 Las Vegas. His signature moment this year, was a spectacular performance against Duluth where he returned to the game in the fourth quarter, somewhat unsteady on his feet, battling the flu, and led UMN to the triple overtime win.
Niklas Damberg, Face Off Specialist: (See above).
Jacob Ogren, Short-Stick Defensive Midfielder: The senior from Minneapolis Southwest was a wizard in transition and on defense for Minnesota, gobbling up 16 Ground Balls and scoring 4 points (3 g, 1 a) in his final campaign at The U.
2nd Team All-UMLC
Ben Nash, Attack: The senior from Mounds View High School rounded out a very dangerous starting attack group for Minnesota, calculating his way to career highs in goals (21), assists (27), and total points (48). Career Distinctions: 2014 UMLC Honorable Mention All-Conference Attack; 2013 UMLL 2nd Team All-Conference Attack; 2014 MCLA Scholar Athlete; 2013 MCLA Scholar Athlete
Bodhi Engum, Midfield: After scoring a total of 4 points in 2014, the Burnsville product amassed 42 points (27 g, 15 a) on the season. With arguably the fastest shot release in the league, Engum led all conference midfielders in goals, assists, and points. In fact, his 42 points are the most points by a midfielder in the UMLC since 2010 and a single season record for a Minnesota midfielder.
Trenton Woodcock, Midfield: Amongst three talented freshmen from Rosemount on the Minnesota roster, Woodcock’s big game experience in high school helped distinguish himself as a freshman. Always calm and collected on the field, he led all UMLC freshmen with 22 points (13 g, 9 a) in his first season of collegiate lacrosse.
Rob Dryke, Defense: A fan favorite out of Minnetonka High School, known for his hulking appearance, unmatched intelligence, and friendly demeanor led Minnesota in forced turnovers, and grabbed 12 Ground Balls throughout the season. Career Distinctions: 2013 UMLL 1st Team All-Conference Defense
Josh Mester, Face Off Specialist: After only taking 8 face offs during the 2014 season, “The Maestro” earned his nickname from winning 149/201 faceoffs (74.1%) during 2015. Trailing fellow FOS Niklas Damberg by only .4 win percentage, these two distinguished themselves as one of the top face off tandems in the nation. The Forest Lake native was second in the UMLC in Ground Balls (behind only Damberg) with 54.
Nick Fix, Long-Stick Midfielder: Representing Rochester Mayo High School, Fix is a big and tough defensive presence for The U. He picked up 32 Ground Balls on the season while scoring 3 points (1 g, 2 a) and winning 9/16 face offs on the season.