Season-ending injuries to high-scoring teammates have forced Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Simon Gondeck (15) to shoulder more of a scoring load. Photo by Loren Nelson
When the Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys lacrosse team beat Eden Prairie to claim the 2011 state championship, senior Simon Gondeck was confined to the sidelines with a torn ACL.
With Gondeck out, star attackmen and leading scorers Will Hoesley and Christian Horn carried the load for the Red Knights to defeat the Eagles in the title game.
This season, the roles flipped.
In a game against Eagan on April 14, both Hoesley and Horn were hurt, giving Gondeck an opportunity to provide the Red Knights with scoring punch as well as some badly needed good news concerning injuries.
Facing Eden Prairie on Saturday, May 5 at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School in St. Louis Park, Gondeck proved that there is a road to recovery, scoring three goals including a late dagger to help the No. 4-ranked Red Knights topple No. 2-ranked Eden Prairie by a score of 9-7.
“It meant a lot,” Gondeck said after the game. “I tore my ACL last year so I couldn’t play in the state championship game, so I took six months off. All these guys on our team getting injured, it’s a blessing to be on the field.”
Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Simon Gondeck, left, races past Eden Prairie's Arik Andreen. Gondeck scored three goals against the Eagles. Photo by Loren Nelson
Gondeck worked hard during the offseason to recover in time for the season. Although rehab was tough, Gondeck made it back to the field, and his timing couldn’t have been better for the Red Knights.
“It was pretty intense,” he said. “I did a couple workouts a day and I was just trying to get back as soon as possible. It sucked I couldn’t play some lacrosse but it’s part of sports. It’s really a blessing to be on the field, you kind of realize that after sitting out after surgery.”
The senior midfielder is second on the team in points with 25 and first in goals with 20. He looks to be running on all cylinders but getting back into game action took some adjusting.
“The first time cutting is always weird, throwing on the brakes is weird, but it’s gotta happen and you gotta be consistent with the rehab,” he said. “It’s not fun coming back.”
Gondeck’s return as a star player for the Red Knights shows hope and something to look forward to for Hoesley and Horn as they look to recover.
Also present throughout Saturday’s game was also a reminder of another Benilde-St. Margaret’s injury, the one suffered by hockey player Jack Jablonski. Jablonski, who was paralyzed by a hit during the 2011-12 season, was being honored at the game on Saturday with signs, white shirts, and various fundraising efforts.
“It was big time,” goaltender Thomas Gilligan said of the Red Knight’s win. “Especially after we lost Hoesley and Horn because they were in the final last year, we came out and we won this one for them and for Jack Jablonski.”
Benilde-St. Margaret's senior goaltender Thomas Gilligan allowed three goals through three quarters in the Red Knights' victory over Eden Prairie. Photo by Loren Nelson
Playing the part of human vacuum cleaner, senior goaltender Thomas Gilligan frustrated Eden Prairie’s offense in Benilde-St. Margaret’s 9-7 win over the Eagles on Saturday.
With every passing shot taken by Eden Prairie, the net seemed to grow continually smaller as Gilligan held Eden Prairie to just three goals through three quarters.
Even though the Eagles scored a few near the end, Gilligan ended the night with 13 saves.
“He did an outstanding job,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Colin Mulcahy. “He’s just one of those goalies that makes those saves that you never thought any goalie could make, and he did a great job tonight for us. He’s the leader of our defense, and he played like it.”
Gilligan had the Eagles scheming and working on new strategies, but in the end the goaltender was just confusing them.
“He’s a great goaltender,” Eden Prairie assistant coach Todd Baxter said. “We knew going into the game that he’s extremely good low, and we still decided to shoot low on him and he gobbled up a lot of saves. He’s got size, he’s got quick hands and he’s tough to beat.”
The player who suffered the most at the hands of Gilligan was junior attackman Brooks Armitage. Armitage had chance after chance to score from point-blank distance on Gilligan, but was stuffed on many of them. On one play, he made a brilliant move around Gilligan leaving himself with a wide open net. Apparently snake-bitten, Armitage shot low and nailed a pipe to blow the opportunity.
“I don’t know what happened there,” he said after the game with a laugh. “He’s really good down low and that’s usually my go-to. He’s just a good goalie, great game.”
“The thing is they should score those goals,” Gilligan said of the doorstep chances. “What I do is try to go all out for them, try to follow the stick and just do the best I can.”
Gilligan is seventh in the state in save percentage, stopping 64.7 percent of shots his way and holding opposing teams to just 5.32 goals per game.
“I think it all comes back to our team,” Gilligan said about his performance on Saturday. “Our defense, they were doing a great job, a great job of communicating and forcing them to take the outside shot which is really easy for me to see."
No. 2-Ranked Eden Prairie nearly completed a late game comeback, but No. 4-ranked Benilde-St. Margaret’s held on to upset the Eagles 9-7 on Saturday, May 5, at Benilde-St. Margaret’s High School.
Up 8-3 in the third quarter, Eden Prairie scored four unanswered to pull within one goal of the Red Knights with minutes to play.
With all the momentum in the Eagles favor, senior Simon Gondeck flew downfield on a fast-break opportunity and fired a bullet past Blake DeJong to seal the win for Benilde-St. Margaret’s.
Gondeck led the Red Knights with three goals, while senior attackman Nick Lauth picked up four points (3 goals, 1 assist). Lauth was key in building the Red Knights’ cushion in the second and third quarters.
Brooks Armitage had a big game for the Eagles, scoring two goals and an assist. He had plenty of chances, but elite goaltender Thomas Gilligan stuffed him on numerous occasions.
Gilligan finished the game with 13 saves, and the Benilde-St. Margaret’s defense held star midfielder Jake Woodring scoreless.
The win was captured by the Red Knights despite the abscence of injured leaders Christian Horn and Will Hoesley.
1. Simon Gondeck, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
Gondeck wrestled the Red Knights out of a free fall late in the fourth quarter when he scored his third goal of the game. The bullet of the shot was finishing touch on the upset for Benilde-St. Margaret’s. The senior midfielder leads the club with twenty goals and is second in points with 25.
2. Thomas Gilligan, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
For the better part of the game, Gilligan was unbeatable. Although the Eagles made a run at the end, Gilligan still finished with 13 saves. The senior goaltender also won a few key races to the ball, leaving the safety of his crease to snag possession for the Red Knights.
3. Brooks Armitage, Eden Prairie
Armitage scored Eden Prairie’s seventh goal of the game, which at the time cut the Eagles’ deficit to one, and ignited their squad. He was stonewalled and frustrated by Gilligan for most of the game, but the goal helped him finish with a team leading three points (2 goals, 1 assist).