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East Metro Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year: Eagan’s Sam Simon

Sam Simon first picked up a lacrosse stick when he was 7 or 8 years old, and he never really set it down after that. His older brother first got into the sport, and he soon followed.

Simon played a number of other sports growing up, but it was lacrosse that gained a special spot in his heart.

You could always find Simon with a stick and a ball, whether that be on the field, in his driveway or … in his basement?

“I put countless holes in the walls,” Simon said. “Some that my mom knows of, and some that she doesn’t know of.”

She’s probably going to find them now.

“I’ll have to go cover those up,” he joked. “It just, for so long now, has always been lacrosse, and I just love playing it. It’s great.”

The love affair, to some extent, will reach its conclusion with this week’s state tournament. After long consideration, Simon made the difficult decision to forego playing lacrosse at the highest level in college. Instead, he’ll go to the University of Minnesota, where he plans to pursue a degree in engineering.

There’s a good chance Simon plays club lacrosse at the U, but his career is essentially reaching a climax at this week’s state tournament. Eagan is the No. 4 seed and will meet fifth-seeded Eden Prairie in the state quarterfinals at 3 p.m. Tuesday at Eden Prairie High School.

He’s certainly going out with a bang in every sense possible. Simon nearly doubled his goal production this season – finding the back of the net 62 times to go with 15 assists – all while leading the Wildcats to their first state tournament since 2018.

The crescendo makes Simon the East Metro Boys Lacrosse Player of the Year.

“It’s kind of like a culmination of so many years of playing. This is like a big thing,” Simon said. “After so many years, it is like a final, last week of lacrosse at Eagan, and it’s been such an important part of high school for me. It definitely feels like it’s coming to an end, but I’m really excited.”

The first thing you notice about Simon is his size – he’s 6-foot-5, 220 pounds. He has found ways to leverage that – as well as a level of speed at his size that perhaps catches opponents off guard – to create advantages for himself and others.

The senior attackman – who played midfield in each of his previous three varsity seasons – noted you need one step on the defender to establish yourself as a threat on offense.

What happens from there has been an evolution. Simon noted when you’re younger, if you beat the man in front of you, you’re going to end up with a good shot attempt.

But as you get older and face well-coached high school teams, getting that step is just step one. Maybe there’s a double team. Just as likely is you’re playing against a sliding defense where help defenders are in position to deter your attack.

As a sophomore, Simon said he struggled with the mentality that he always wanted to drive to the goal. But in recent years, he has found ways to play more unselfishly, and his team has become more dynamic because of it.

Simon said years of playing with guys like A.J. Clark and Griffin Joas has him understanding where they’re going to be at all times and how they use one another to dissect the defense.

“My biggest improvement, I would say, would be I think being able to create offense, not just scoring, but also get an offense going, draw a slide, get the ball moving around and kind of being able to lead an offense,” he said. “A big part has to do with improving on the communication and strategy of our offense, and really being able to put that into action as a player on the field, and not just a coach on the sidelines.”

When Eagan’s offense is clicking, the Wildcats are hard to stop. They potted seven goals in the fourth quarter of an early-season, come-from-behind victory over defending champion Lakeville North.

They’ve scored double-digit goals in every game but two this season. They fired off 26 shots on goal against East Ridge in their 12-10 Section 3 championship victory.

That win – in which Simon scored five goals – frankly, meant everything to Simon and Co., who fell to Cretin-Derham Hall in a four-overtime thriller in last year’s section final. That loss was so devastating that Simon noted the days and hours leading up to this year’s section final marked some of his most nervous of his career. Getting to state was a major goal all year.

“You put a lot of pressure on it. And last year put even more pressure on it,” Simon said. “That made beating East Ridge this year extra special. We finally made it (to state) in my senior year. I feel that we have the talent and the desire to win. I think a big thing is we’re just going to go out there, have fun and do our best. We definitely have a good chance of doing some damage and hopefully, maybe winning a state tournament.”

FINALISTS

Blake Piscitiello, junior attacker, Lakeville North: Primary finisher for the state-bound Panthers has 70 goals.

Quinn Power, senior midfielder/face-off specialist, Lakeville North: Utah commit has won a ridiculous 83 percent of draws while scoring 25 goals for defending state champs.

Brol Scherman, senior midfielder, Centennial: Marquette commit has 51 goals and 15 assists in just 14 games for state-bound Cougars.

Aidan Siegfried, senior defender, Cretin-Derham Hall: Maryville commit headlined a defense that surrendered a tick under seven goals per game this season.

Anderson Wagner, junior midfielder, Stillwater: Has 47 goals for the state-bound Ponies, including four goals and three ground balls in section final victory.