MINNEAPOLIS, Minn.–The men’s lacrosse team at the University of Minnesota (11-3, 5-1 CCLA) ended their regular season with a weekend sweep over Davenport and St. Thomas. The Gophers’ 11-3 regular season is the best record they have posted in over ten years.
On Friday evening, Minnesota struggled early to contain Davenport’s sharpshooting attack. Paul Schalau and Bryan Larocque scored off of bullseye passes from Jarred Riley to jolt the Panthers to an early 2-0 lead. However, the Gophers were able to counter with strong faceoff play from Niklas Damberg and a strong offense. Though Minnesota’s offense ran into a brick wall as Davenport’s netminder, Danny Kransberger, proved difficult to get past. Gopher attackman Nick Abbott was able to sneak one by Kransberger late in the first quarter off a feed from long-stick midfielder Ryan Gillard in transition to put the Gophers on the board, 2-1. After the first quarter, Kransberger already had 13 saves.
Davenport continued to carry the momentum throughout the start of the second as Kransberger continued his hot play, and the Panthers scored 3 consecutive goals to take a 5-1 lead. Gopher midfielder, Riley Sanocki, changed the game’s momentum as he used his speed to fly through the Panther defense and zip a shot past Kransberger to stop Davenport’s run with 8:41 remaining in the first half. Amar Batra followed scoring his first of the game to bring the Gophers to within two. Damberg’s dominance at the faceoff x allowed Minnesota to start playing ‘make it, take it’ as the Gophers were able to gain control of the game and ball possession. The second quarter continued with Matt Johnson scoring, and Batra scoring his second of the game to bring the game to a 5-5 tie going into halftime.
At the start of the second half, Trenton Woodcock scored within the first minute of possession to give the Gophers their first lead of the game. Thirty seconds later, Grant Oie added another goal off a feed from Batra to bring the score to 7-5. However Davenport answered with 2 goals of their own to bring the game back to a tie. As the game continued to heat up with physical play, the Panthers received a penalty for unnecessary roughness, which the Gophers were able to capitalize on with an EMO goal from Chandler Sampson to take an 8-7 lead. Woodcock scored his second of the game and Batra completed his hat trick before the Panthers scored man-up to end the third quarter with the Gophers holding an 10-8 lead.
The fourth quarter was all Minnesota’s as the Gophers scored 4 unanswered goals to finish the game 14-8. Kamal Baker scored his sixth goal of the season, as Johnson added his second of the game. Woodcock finished the game with his third hat trick of the season, and Abbott finished the game with 3 points (2 goals, 1 assist). Damberg finished the game going 20-24 at the faceoff with 16 groundballs, a new career high. Davenport’s Kransberger finished the game with a monumental 35-save performance.
ST. THOMAS RECAP
On Saturday evening, fans had the opportunity to watch the top programs in Minnesota battle head-to-head in a cross divisional match-up. Minnesota’s seniors made the most of Senior Night as they led the Gophers to a 13-9 win for the their first win over the Tommies since 2006. Senior attackmen Nick Abbott and Bodhi Engum each had hat tricks, while senior goaltender and captain, Matt Jorgensen, had 9 saves for the night.
The first quarter was filled with electrifying, fast-paced cat and mouse play between both teams as they matched each other’s play evenly. After one quarter, the game was knotted at a 3-3 tie with Bodhi Engum, Trenton Woodcock, and Amar Batra scoring for the Gophers. St. Thomas started the scoring quickly in the second quarter as Ryan McNeil and Nick Bunde connected for a goal. Five minutes later, Engum scored his second to tie the game at 4. Engum then found Abbott with a pass who then scored to give the Gophers their first lead of the game with 6:41 remaining in the second. The Gophers then continued to slowly add on to their lead, going on a 6-goal run through the third quarter until the Tommies were able to stop it scoring with 41 seconds remaining in the third to bring the score to 9-5.
The Tommies stormed out during the fourth quarter with 3 goals to close the Gopher lead to 9-8. Minnesota, however, remained poised. It was Abbott, who stopped the Tommies’ 4-goal run as he darted through an unprepared defense at the start of an extra-man opportunity and easily slipped the ball past Austin Dover to bring the Gophers up 10-8. Abbott then assisted on Woodcock’s following goal, and Werkmeister added his own to stretch the Gopher lead to 12-8. Andrew Sotis scored for the Tommies with just under four minutes remaining in the game to keep the Tommies alive. Woodcock delivered the dagger with an empty netter with at the :50 mark for his second consecutive hat trick of the weekend, as the Gophers claimed a 13-9 victory over the Tommies.
LOOKING AHEAD TO POSTSEASON
Minnesota will travel to Chelsea, Mich. for the CCLA tournament, April 29-30. If Michigan State finishes their remaining two conference games with wins, the Gophers will have the #2 seed. Central Michigan and Davenport are currently in a fight for the last spot in the CCLA tournament. This will be the Gophers’ first CCLA tournament and also the first shot at an automatic qualifier to the MCLA national tournament since 2012.