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2014 Spring Preview: Third year a charm for Park boys lacrosse team?

With progress from the past two seasons and an experienced lineup, things are looking up for the Park boys lacrosse team.

Fourteen seniors return to a Wolfpack team that finished .500 (6-6, 4-4 Suburban East Conference) last year. Park took Hastings to the brink in the section playoffs before falling 13-12 in a double overtime marathon.

“This group along with the group that graduated last year, were the originators of Cottage Grove lacrosse, so I think they’re pretty hungry to make it further in sections than they made it last year,” Wolfpack coach Greg Rinzel said.

Both their record and section game alone displayed big steps from a 2-6 SEC showing in 2012, their inaugural season after splitting from East Ridge. Hopkins welcomed the Wolfpack to their first postseason game in 2012 with a 14-6 defeat.

An experienced attack line with three seniors gives the Wolfpack a proven and diverse offense. Zach Bezek, Brent Wallace and Lauden Rinzel all can put points on the board. They have been playing together since their sophomore year.

“I think our biggest strength is that we don’t have any one standout player,” coach Rinzel said. “I think we have a very balanced team.”

Last season, Wallace had the second-highest point total on the team with 35. Rinzel put up 29 points, and Bezek had 24.

Coach Rinzel sees a couple of midfielders stepping up this year including Clay Dosmann, Clay Diedrich and Nick Perry. Rinzel also anticipates good things from freshmen Carter Dosmann and Dan Beck. Goalie Jeremy Scollick gives the Wolfpack experience in net.

In only his third year of any competitive lacrosse, he went 4-4 and had a .483 save percentage. Friends of his whom he played hockey with had convinced him to try the sport.

“He has increased his skills and abilities over the summer,” Rinzel said.

Defensively, the Wolfpack will look to multiple seniors and underclassmen to make things happen on that end of the field. Though the Wolfpack has lots of experience, they will have less depth than many of the teams they will face, according to Rinzel. The Wolfpack also lost top scorer Luke Nelson to graduation.

White Bear Lake and Stillwater have owned the SEC for the past decade of boys lacrosse, but Rinzel sees that changing this year. Other teams have started to build up their programs and become more competitive.

“It’s a pretty even conference right now,” Rinzel said.

Wolfpack players most look forward to taking on their old teammates/team in East Ridge and win back the Warrior Cup. The Raptors squeaked by last year in a 9-7 win, and the two rivals meet again on May 7.

“We lost a heart-breaker after being up by four goals at one time,” Rinzel said.

Woodbury also gives the Wolfpack another big rivalry and will play a key role in the conference race. The Royals took third in the SEC last year, and their game this year will fall on May 19, the second-to-last contest of the regular season for the Wolfpack.

Because the Wolfpack and several SEC teams play on astro turf, game cancellations will likely not happen. The Wolfpack open the season on April 14 at Farmington in non-conference play. SEC teams have been willing to brave the elements too.

“We did play in a blizzard in Roseville our first game,” Rinzel said about last season. “We made it through three quarters, and the ref called it.”

—Matthew Davis