In hindsight, Eden Prairie lacrosse coach Ryan Ward said last year was about getting guys time and taking some lumps (growing pains).
Injuries would also play a role.
“If we can stay healthy,” added Ward, “we can get to where we need to be.”
Believe it or not, there’s a byproduct to “taking some lumps.”
“We’ll be under most everyone’s radar,” said Ward. “That’s a good spot to be in.”
For the record, last year’s team bowed out in the Section 2 semifinals, falling 10-7 to No. 2-seeded Minnetonka.
Ward said this year’s team should be able to score, defend and keep balls out of the net.
“Scoring has been our Achilles’ heal,” he said, “but Collin (Collin Penn) should be a force and when Caden (Caden Fey) gets back, he should take a lot of pressure off Collin.
“I’m saying it right now,” added Ward, “Will Foster will be our most improved player.”
The coach also expects offensive production from Will Aldrin and Max Gengler.
Eden Prairie’s defense will be anchored by Quentin Matsui, Michael Fabel and Thomas Mendyke.
Garett Smith returns as goalie.
“He’s a really good ball stopper,” said Ward, “He’s a senior and he plays with a lot of emotion.”
To recap: Eden Prairie should be able to put the ball in the net, keep it from getting to the net and keep it from going in the net.
“That’s a question mark,” said Ward. “We planned to have Tyler Marble take most of our faceoffs, but he hurt his knee during the hockey season.
“As a result, we’ll be a faceoff by committee team,” he added. “and that’s OK, as we’ve got guys ready to battle and muck it up.”
On paper, the defending section champion Minnetonka Skippers look to be the team to beat.
Ward only kind of sees it that way.
“They’re the champs until someone knocks them off,” he said, “but last year was last year.
“I like our team,” he added. “We’re a year older. We’re a year better and we’ll play with more poise.”
“We’ll be counted out,” he said, “but we’ll crush some teams. We’ve got the section finals circled on our calendars already. I have to believe Minnetonka does too.”
Eden Prairie is scheduled to open its season on Thursday, April 18, with a 5:30 p.m. home game against Wayzata.