OAK PARK HEIGHTS — After handing Park its first Suburban East Conference loss of the season the previous week, the Stillwater boys’ lacrosse team kept its title hopes alive with a 9-4 victory over Mounds View on Tuesday, May 16 at Stillwater Area High School.
It was the sixth win in a row for the Ponies (5-1 SEC, 8-2), who traveled to White Bear Lake to face the conference-leading Bears on Thursday, May 18. A victory would put Stillwater in position to earn a share of its first conference championship since 2010.
“It’s definitely a big one for us and we’ve got to be ready,” Ponies coach Tom Howe said. “We want to make sure we play a complete game and play as well as we can. They’ll be a tough test for us.”
The victory over Mounds View was the fifth in a row in conference play for the Ponies since falling to Cretin-Derham Hall on April 25. Stillwater needed overtime to defeat the Mustangs in the Section 4 quarterfinals a year ago and fell behind 3-1 after the first quarter on Tuesday, which was also Senior Night for the Ponies.
“I think we definitely started sluggish,” Howe said. “They always come to play against us and they seem to give us a good, physical battle.”
Stillwater stormed back with three goals in the second quarter and outscored the Mustangs 3-0 in the third quarter to build a 7-3 advantage. The Ponies scored eight straight goals, including two more in the fourth, before Mounds View (2-4, 4-6) broke through with two minutes remaining to provide the final margin.
“We just didn’t possess the ball like we would have liked, which means we played more defense,” Howe said. “We just kind of chipped away.
“I think we started to be a little more focused and started to play a little bit better and more of our game on both ends of the field. The first quarter I think we were struggling on both ends of the field. Our defense has been playing real well, but they were uncharacteristically a little off their game. We just started playing a little better and the momentum just started to kick in.”
Marcus Darby and Nelson Summary each finished with two goals for the Ponies, who also received a goal each from Ty Thureson, Blake Evensen, Jack Siedow, Pad DaBruzzi and Mason Green.
It was a typically balanced scoring attack for Stillwater, which also received nine saves in goal from Connor Chesnut.
“We played better, but still not what we’re capable of,” Howe said. “We showed last week against Park and East Ridge what we were capable of.”
• After facing the Bears on May 18, the Ponies travel to Roseville for their final conference game on May 23 and then host defending Section 4 champion Tartan in a nonconference game to close out the regular season on May 25.
Mounds View 3 0 0 1 — 4
Stillwater 1 3 3 2 — 9
Goals — St, Marcus Darby 2, Nelson Summary 2, Ty Thureson, Blake Evensen, Jack Siedow, Pad DaBruzzi and Mason Green.
Assists — St, Siedow.
Saves — St, Connor Chesnut 3-3-2-1—9.
Stillwater 14, Park 6
At Cottage Grove, the Ponies limited the SEC’s highest-scoring team to just two goals in the second half on the way to a 14-6 victory over Park on Thursday, May 11 at Wolfpack Stadium.
Stillwater scored seven goals in the opening quarter to build a 7-2 lead and never looked back.
“We had an amazing first quarter,” Ponies coach Tom Howe said. “That was the right way to start the game.”
Stillwater, which received five goals from Tom McGuire, led 10-4 at halftime and pulled away with four goals in the fourth quarter. Jack Siedow, Mason Green and Pad DaBruzzi added two goals apiece.
“That’s one of the nice things is that it’s spread out. We have multiple guys we can go to,” Howe said. “It was really a team effort.”
Connor Chesnut finished with eight saves for the Ponies, who handed the Wolpack (6-1, 8-3) their first conference loss of the season.
“We’ve been playing a more consistent overall team game and possessing the ball on offense and being more efficient on offense,” Howe said. “All those things add to our ability to keep the ball out of their hands and the defense continues to play well. All aspects of the game have been working well three of the last four games.”
Stillwater didn’t open the door for Park while getting whistled for just two penalties.
“I think we’re starting to play with much better discipline,” Howe said. “Both teams stayed away from the penalties and we’ve really been playing more disciplined the last number of games and that’s been important — and the overall effort has been great.”
Stillwater 7 3 0 4 — 14
Park 2 2 1 1 — 6
Goals — St, Tom McGuire 5, Jack Siedow 2, Mason Green 2, Pad DaBruzzi 2, Ty Thureson, Marcus Darby and Nelson Summary.
Assists — St, Siedow 2.
Saves — St, Connor Chesnut 0-2-4-2—8.