Sometimes faceoffs can be overlooked.
Some go one way, the rest go the other, but it all seems to even out right?
Apparently, that’s not how Eden Prairie’s Patrick McFadden approaches midfield.
In Thursday’s 11-6 Section 6 championship victory over No. 1-ranked Minnetonka, McFadden won all 21 faceoffs. From the opening tip to the final horn, the senior midfielder was flawless.
After every goal and at the start of every quarter, Eden Prairie was automatically handed possession of the ball due to McFadden’s work, and by the end of the game at Robbinsdale Armstrong High School in Plymouth, the difference he made showed up in the final score and helped the Eagles advance to the state tournament.
“Possesion,” Eden Prairie coach Ryan Ward said conclusively after the game. “Possesion is crucial; it’s extra opportunities to get goals. Sometimes a good offense is the best defense and you’re not taking penalties so it can be really effective.”
What Ward was getting at was that as long as Eden Prairie controlled the ball, there was no way Minnetonka even had a chance to score. This narrative played out over and over Thursday, especially in the fourth quarter when the Eagles outscored Minnetonka by five goals to shift a close game to a decisive victory.
So what was McFadden’s secret? Extra Wheaties this morning? Really great trash talk?
“I don’t know I just kind of got into a zone,” Mcfadden said. “It’s partly a head game, but for me it’s just a rhythm. Once I get into a rhythm I think it’s hard for me to get out of that rhythm. Once I start going it’s just kind of like a machine, I don’t really think about it when I go.”
McFadden was awarded a game ball by his team after the celebrations had finished.
It’s likely rare that a game ball is handed out to a player who finished with zero points in a win over the top-ranked team in Minnesota for a trip to state, but McFadden was deserving of the prize.
“That’s the best game I’ve ever seen him play. He was so dominant,” he said. “It’s a one-on-one matchup and he won his one-on-one matchup in the faceoff circle and I’m really proud of him, he played really well.”
The Skippers did have a slight explanation for getting taken to the cleaners in the faceoff department. Their main faceoff specialist was injured recently and so Minnetonka was forced to make do with players who weren’t used to the job, or the competition.
“Unfortunately we lost our ‘FOGO’ a week ago so we had to rely on two guys,” Minnetonka coach Aaron Oliver said. “Both are very talented but McFadden is ‘first team all-section’ for a reason. He’s insanely good and he deserves every accolade that he’s getting and he’s a hard guy to beat.
“We just didn’t have enough possessions in the second half to do anything.”
Eden Prairie outscored No. 1-ranked Minnetonka by five goals in the fourth quarter to pull an 11-6 upset in the Section 6 championship game and move onto the state tournament.
The game on Thursday, May 31, at Robbinsdale Armstrong in Plymouth was a back and forth affair that left the game tied at five after the third quarter.
Every time one team went up, the other team countered just as quickly.
In the fourth quarter however, the No. 5-ranked Eagles (14-2) stepped on the gas and blew the Skippers (13-3) out of the water.
Patrick McFadden won a stunning 21 out of 21 faceoffs, allowing Eden Prairie to have complete control of the ball for much of the game, and especially the fourth quarter.
In the third, the big guns for both squads put on a show, dueling each other goal-for-goal. Mr. Lacrosse finalist Teddy O’Reilly had four goals, all of which were top-corner bullets that ignited the Skippers’ fan section.
Star juniors Brooks Armitage and Jake Woodring had the answer each time, finishing with a combined nine points. Armitage had four goals, and Woodring had two goals and three assists.
The fourth quarter belonged to the entire Eden Prairie squad as the Eagles spread the scoring out well and held on to the ball for nearly the entire quarter. Junior attackman Sam Gravelle scored twice, a great accomplishment since he only had eight goals in the regular season and none in the last five games.
1. Patrick McFadden, Eden Prairie
Winning 21 out of 21 faceoffs helped the Eagles control every facet of the game. During the regular season McFadden won 74 percent of faceoffs, an admirable pace that he destroyed on Thursday. Minnetonka just couldn’t get possession of the ball in the fourth quarter, and the credit for that goes to the senior midfielder.
2. Jake Woodring / Brooks Armitage, Eden Prairie
When the Minnetonka defense keyed in on Woodring he morphed into a feeder instead of a finisher. Happily sitting on the receiving end of those passes was Brooks Armitage, who scored two of his four goals with the aid of Woodring who totaled three assists as well as two goals. The two were a deadly tandem.
3. Teddy O’Reilly, Minnetonka
The rumor in the crowds was that O’Reilly was secretly hiding a cannon in his stick throughout the game. Ok, maybe not, but it sure seemed like it as O’Reilly popped four goals on great shots to lead the Skippers. His four points led the team.