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Boys lacrosse preview: Tigers looking to win close ones

A half-dozen closely-contested losses kept a good season from being a great one for the Farmington boys lacrosse team last spring.

The Tigers finished with a record of 8-6, but all six losses came by a single goal, including a 9-8 setback to Rochester Century in the opening round of the section tournament.

“We weren’t as prepared as we should have been in specific situations,” Farmington coach Paul Sorensen said. “We need to drill on scenarios that happen throughout the game and become students of the game. Our athleticism is as good as it has ever been; now we need to become more lacrosse smart.”

One way to do that is by getting more experience. The Tigers welcome 10 seniors back from last year’s team, many of whom spent a lot of time playing lacrosse during the off season. Underclassmen that could compete for varsity time have also been showing increased off-season commitment, according to Sorensen.

“We definitely have seen earlier and younger participation in the weight room and in fall and winter leagues,” he said. “We sent a record number of players to the Minnesota-Duluth camp over the summer, too.”

The Tigers’ senior captains are leading practice this week in preparation of the official start date on Monday. This year’s captains are Corey Rudrud, who is the team’s top returning attacker after scoring 41 points last season; all-section midfielder Dan Block; midfielder Kevin Clifton (16 points); and defensive leader Alex Aubrecht.

Other returning seniors are midfielders Alex Kelly, Mitch Hilton (24 points), Chris Fitzgibbons (16 points), Caleb Hakala and face-off specialist Michael Thompson.

Nick Workman joins Aubrecht as a stopper on defense.

“I expect our strength will be a more balanced, well-rounded attack,” Sorensen said. “We have two experienced defensive poles in Aubrecht and Workman and throw in a converted midfielder in Mitch Grengs and we have a very athletic, balanced defensive unit. Our midfield is strong and we return the second leading scorer on our team in Rudrud at attack. Add a very talented incoming freshman class and we will be more of a threat from different positions.”

The Tigers’ least experienced spot on the field will be in goal where they lost starter Matt Heinzerling to graduation. Kyle Kratz is one of the candidates to fill that spot after getting 88 minutes of action in a back-up role last spring.

“It’s an open competition to replace our all-section goalie. Our approach defensively will be to protect our new goalie as best we can while he gains experience,” Sorensen said.

The Tigers are scheduled to open the season on the road at Lakeville South on April 11. Their first home game is the following Monday against Park of Cottage Grove.