By STUART GROSKREUTZ
OAK PARK HEIGHTS – A balanced scoring attack carried the Stillwater boys’ lacrosse team to a 17-3 victory over Coon Rapids in the first round of the Section 4 tournament on Tuesday at Stillwater Area High School.
The fifth-seeded Ponies (10-4), who have won six consecutive games, advance to face fourth-seeded Totino-Grace in the quarterfinals on Thursday.
After opening a 3-2 first-quarter lead on Tuesday, Stillwater outscored the Cardinals 14-1 in the next three quarters to pull away.
Sam Mathieu and Zach Wittl each tallied three goals while Jeff Peterson, Nolan Rinta and Mitch Caywood added two apiece to help pace a balanced attack. Chris Rick, George Uppgren, Will Raedeke, Cody Holsten and Sam Sagissor each chipped in with a goal as 13 different Ponies collected at least one point.
"We had a ton of people on the scoring list," Ponies coach Travis Sanders said. "It was very balanced and pretty much everybody was getting looks."
A relative newcomer to the varsity, eighth-grader Harrison Yaste delivered three assists for Stillwater while Mathieu, Rick, Uppgren, Charlie Register and Matt Kaye added an assist each.
"(Yaste) joined the varsity maybe two weeks ago and got some playing time later in the season," Sanders said. "He’s got incredible speed and wonderful vision and he’s been a nice asset to us."
A newcomer to varsity this season, Jeff Burridge made eight saves in goal for the Ponies to set the team’s single season record for victories in a season with 10, eclipsing the previous mark of nine set by Ryan Freeman in 2008.
"He was just putting in his time and steps up and has a fantastic year," Sanders said. "We’re proud of how he has handled it between the pipes this year and he’s grown to be a vocal leader, too. It’s been fun to see his confidence build and he’s had a really nice season so far.
Goals – St, Sam Mathieu 3, Zach Wittl 3, Jeff Peterson 2, Nolan Rinta 2, Mitch Caywood 2, Chris Rick, George Uppgren, Will Raedeke, Cody Holsten and Sam Sagissor.
Assists – St, Harrison Yaste 3, Mathieu, Rick, Uppgren, Charlie Register and Matt Kaye.
Saves – St, Jeff Burridge 8.
Tuesday’s first round
Mounds View 6, Centennial 5
Totino-Grace 12, Forest Lake 3
Stillwater 17, Coon Rapids 3
Blaine 18, Spring Lake Park 0
Andover 16, Irondale 9
Hill-Murray 7, Anoka 6
#9 Mounds View at #1 White Bear Lake
#5 Stillwater at #4 Totino-Grace
#6 Andover at #3 Blaine
#7 Hill-Murray at #2 Mahtomedi
The semifinals are slated for Tuesday and the finals will be held at Irondale on Thursday, May 31.