Offense played with care leads to top ranking in boys lacrosse

Sam Kepner, defensive coordinator under former Prior Lake boys lacrosse coach Casey Mithun from 2018 until 2023, proved last week he knows something about offense.

Kepner replaced Mithun as head coach this spring and has the Lakers off to a 6-0 start — good for the top ranking from the Minnesota Boys' Lacrosse Coaches Association this week.

The signature victory was a 5-4 defeat of previous No. 1 Bloomington Jefferson. Kepner said defeating the Jaguars started with a new acronym: ADP, which stands for angle, distance and placement. This formula was key to converting shots against a quality goalie, Jefferson's Bennett Lindman.

"High-percentage shots are the North Star of our offense," Kepner said.

Another key aspect to winning games is being a finisher. Prior Lake struggled to close out an 8-6 victory against Eden Prairie the night before facing Jefferson. But the Lakers players showed themselves to be quick studies.

Junior defender Dillon Tushie led the complete effort by limiting high-scoring Jaguars junior attackman Kevin Graff to one assist.

The teams were tied 3-3 at halftime. Kepner said Prior Lake didn't lose a second-half draw thanks to the work of sophomore Griffin Marshall at the faceoff X.

"You can't take quarters off like we did against Eden Prairie," Kepner said. "We've got to finish these important games."

Kepner said victories last week against Eden Prairie, a new addition to Section 6 this year, No. 1 Jefferson and defending state tournament champion Lakeville North validated his team's work "in and out of the season, at captains' practices and in the weight room."

"We proved we can compete," Kepner said.

State rankings

By the Minnesota Boys' Lacrosse Coaches Association

1. Prior Lake 5-0-0; 2. Bloomington Jefferson 7-1-0; 3. Benilde-St. Margaret's 7-1-0; 4. Stillwater 8-1-0; 5. Farmington 7-0-0; 6. Lakeville North 5-3-0; 7. Wayzata 5-1-0; Edina 5-2-0; 9. Eagan 6-1-0; 10. East Ridge 7-1-0.