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Boys lacrosse: Seventeen back from Farmington's 8-6 team

Last year's success has raised expectations for the Farmington boys lacrosse team.

The Tigers combined to win just one game in two seasons before emerging to go 7-5 in the regular season and defeat Rochester John Marshall for the program's first section victory last spring. Seventeen letter-winners are back from that team and looking to build off their breakout season.

"We have a lot of returning players from that team.... As a group we head into the season confident, but not overconfident as we know hard work and determination will separate us from the pack," Farmington coach Paul Sorensen said. "A lot of leadership and scoring went with some of our key players in Matt Ackerman, Trevor Howard and Mitch Collier and we will need to make up for the loss with a combined team effort.... We have a solid group of athletic defensemen and our middies are poised to step up."

Ackerman, Howard and Collier combined for 97 points last season. That leaves Brendon Berg as the team's top returning scorer after tossing in a team-high 25 goals and handing out seven assists last season. Attackers Cory Rudrud (nine goals), Garrett Gunderson and Alex Schrafft also figure to take on larger roles.

Jacob Bauman (seven goals, three assists) provides a scoring threat as a midfielder where he's joined by returning players Kevin Clifton, Dan Block, Chris Fitzgibbons and Michael Thompson. Newcomers Mitch Hilton, Ryan Cole and Caleb Hakala could also contribute, according to Sorensen.

Defensively, the Tigers will look to returning players Alex Aubrecht, Nathan Brunnelle, Joey Todd, Alex Osborn and Matt Workman. They will operate in front of one of a pair of goalies, Max Willis and Matt Heizerling-Wiese, who will take over after the graduation loss of Charlie Weierke.

"We aim to make our defensive effort a key to our success this upcoming season with a more athletic group all over the field," Sorenson said. "We feel extremely confident that our play in goal will allow us to focus on other areas of need -- not worried about the net at all this year."

Sorenson is also pleased with the turnout among freshmen, which he expects to be the program's largest ever.

"That's a testament to our youth organization and the great job they do preparing these guys for high school," he said.

If the Tigers can mix those newcomers with their core of returning varsity players, Sorensen expects them to compete for their first section title.

"Our goals are to beat over 70 percent of our section opponents during the season, win all the hustle stats, play sound team defense and ultimately win our section this year," he said.

The Tigers open the season at home against Lakeville South on April 11.