The past two seasons have brought historic program success but also some unwanted endings for the Chanhassen boys lacrosse team.
The Storm have reached the Class A state tournament the past two seasons — the first and second time in program history. The team came up short of its championship goal both times, losing in the state quarterfinals as the No. 2 seed in the eight-team field. Reflecting on the 10-8 loss against Centennial last season, senior captain Carter Van Holland called the loss ‘devastating,’ saying Chanhassen might have overlooked the Cougars and was not as prepared for the summer heat that day.
Now with 15 seniors gone from last year’s roster, six preseason top 10 opponents on the schedule and pain from how the last two seasons ended, Chanhassen hopes to make it back to the tournament to establish it as a regular occurrence as well as coming away as the top team this time around.
“It’s really heartbreaking just to reach that far and obviously come up short,” junior captain Tyler Burton said. “Obviously it’s not something we want to be known for in this program so I think our biggest goal is to bring home a state title and make history for this school.”
The Storm come into the season as the No. 3 ranked team in the state after a 16-3 overall record and state consolation bracket championship. Chanhassen finished second in the Metro West Conference behind Benilde-St. Margaret’s after taking the conference crown in 2021. To reach the state tournament, the Storm earned the No. 2 seed in the section 2 tournament and beat Shakopee in the championship game for the second consecutive season.
Earning a top seed in the section once again along with reaching the state tournament will be a challenge, however, as Chanhassen is set to face stiff competition throughout the regular season. Six of the team’s 13 games are against teams ranked in the preseason top 10, including defending state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s, section foe Buffalo, state third place Stillwater, Minnetonka, Bloomington Jefferson and Mahtomedi.
Chanhassen lost some offensive firepower from last season, graduating six of their seven leaders in points last season. Van Holland returns as the team’s leader in points with 105 (62 goals, 43 assists), good enough for the most points in the state. Junior Daxton Bush is the next highest returning player with 23 points from 2022. Van Holland said the Storm want to play a fast, smart style of play on offense.
On the defensive end of the field, senior goalie Grant Penttinen returns after recording a .644 save percentage and goals against average of 5.87. Senior captain Hank Pinamonti and Burton also return as key defensive players for Chanhassen. Pinamonti added the team wants to make opponents uncomfortable by playing aggressively.
“We want to be known as one of those teams that when you see you’re playing them on the schedule they think, ‘It’s going to be a tough week. We’ve got to prepare for them,’ which I definitely think we’re on our way,” Pinamonti said.
On top of making a run at the state title, the captains’ goals are to also have fun while also setting a standard of play for the lacrosse program for years to come.
“I want to make a culture that lasts, and we definitely have the players here for it… We kind of lost a big chunk of that culture but I think we all want to rebuild that and make this program really solidified as a top team in the state,” Pinamonti said.
The Storm’s quest for the state championship began with two road games before the home opener April 25 against No. 10 Mahtomedi and an area rivalry game at Chaska April 27. The section 2 tournament begins the week of May 29 with the state tournament set for June 13, 15 and 17 at Stillwater and White Bear Lake High Schools. Despite being seen as one of the state’s top teams, the Storm are not letting that influence their preparation early in the season.
“We try not to think about it, just come out and be ourselves every week and don’t worry about where we’re ranked,” Van Holland said. “We just got to prove it.”