Eagan sophomore Max Elsenheimer, right, pressures Benilde-St. Margaret's attackman Christian Horn. Photo by Helen Nelson
Nicknames are standard issue at Eagan, where monikers are passed out as freely as helmets as shoulder pads.
A few years ago Connor Simpson was tagged as “The Future” for his seemingly limitless potential as a scoring wunderkind.
By comparison, Max Elsenheimer’s draw was decidedly lousy when teammates tagged him “The Goat.”
“It’s a long story” said Elsenheimer, the lone sophomore on a Wildcats team dominated by seniors. “It comes from hockey freshman year. It used to be like, ‘You are the young guy, at the bottom of the totem pole, go do whatever I say.’
“But now it is kind of an affectionate name.”
Eagan sophomore Max Elsenheimer, left, scored three goals and played suffocating defense in the Wildcats' upset victory over Benilde-St. Margaret's. Photo by Helen Nelson
The love for Elsenheimer grew exponentially on Saturday, April 14, as “The Goat” was anything but in a performance that included three goals and numerous “How did he see that?” passes in the Wildcats’ 10-9 victory over two-time defending state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s at Benilde-St. Margaret’s Stadium Field in St. Louis Park.
Eagan’s victory snapped the Red Knights’ 24-game win streak, a run that dates to an 11-10 loss to Blake on May 20 in the final game of the 2010 regular season.
“This really sets the bar high, and sets the target on our backs,” Elsenheimer said about the win over the state’s marquee program. “We can’t take a game off.”
No doubt Elsenheimer also will be drawing heavier attention as the young season gains momentum. He was virtually unknown before Saturday’s breakout performance. The Benilde-St. Margaret’s public address announcer, working off a program that listed Elsenheimer as Eisenheimer, incorrectly pronounced the attackman’s name (it does not rhyme with Wisenheimer) for the entire first half.
Everything was sorted out in the second half for Eagan – both Elsenheimer’s over-the-air pronunciation and the Wildcats’ offensive flow. Eagan outscored the Red Knights’ 5-2 in the third quarter, when they turned a 5-3 deficit into an 8-5 advantage.
Eagan’s lead grew so large that Wildcats coach Bob Felter was in the enviable position of asking his forwards to chew time off the clock with each possession.
Eagan's Cullen Willox, left, shields the ball from Benilde-St. Margaret's Nick Lauth. Photo by Helen Nelson
“We tried to hold the ball a little bit, but either these guys don’t listen or they can’t hear us,” Felter said. “On a couple of those goals I was like, ‘No, no. Okay, good.’ We have some guys that can really, really shoot. And those shots were great because that guy (Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior Thomas Gilligan) is a fantastic goalie.”
Elsenheimer scored 16 goals and added eight assists as a freshman last season. Felter raves about the sophomore’s ability to read defenses, anticipate plays and make the right pass.
“He’s almost like a coach out there,” the Wildcats’ coach said.
Elsenheimer says he enjoys studying game film. A future coach? The kid is well on his way judging by his postgame penchant for crediting his defense and vowing to take the season “one game at a time.”
All games are not created equal. This game, this win, will be hard to for the Wildcats to forget.
“I’m just in this state of euphoria right now,” Elsenheimer said.
Connor Simpson, Mike Kukulski and Max Elsenheimer each had three goals as No. 4-ranked Eagan snapped two-time defending state champion Benilde-St. Margaret’s 24-game winning streak dating back to the 2010 season with a 10-9 victory on Saturday, April 14, at Benilde-St. Margaret’s Stadium Field.
Simpson scored what proved to be the winning goal in the final minute, putting the Wildcats (2-0) ahead 10-8 with 58 seconds remaining.
Nick Lauth scored for the No. 1-ranked Red Knights (1-1) with 18 seconds left, but Eagan faceoff wizard Scott Pescheret won the ensuing draw. The Wildcats ran out the clock then sprinted toward midfield for a wild celebration befitting one of the biggest wins in the program’s history.
Elsenheimer, the lone sophomore on an Eagan team dominated by seniors, also had an assist in a breakout performance that stamped him as one of the state's elite underclassmen.
Wildcats goaltender Lucas Petersen made nine saves to register the victory.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s lost standout senior attackman Christian Horn to injury in the third quarter and Will Hoesley, a senior who led the Red Knights with 65 goals last season, exited late in the fourth quarter with an injury.
Eagan sophomore Max Eisenheimer. Photo by Helen Nelson
1. Max Elsenheimer, Eagan
A sophomore who plays with the poise and a panache of a battle-hardened senior, Elsenheimer scored twice during man-up situations and had three goals in all but was most effective distributing the ball to open teammates.