Eastview coach Tim Roche, far right, watches as the defending state champion Lightning scrimmage against Prior Lake on Saturday at McMurray Fields in St. Paul. Photo by Loren Nelson
It was a lax player's paradise.
Palm trees, sunny skies, gentle breezes, warm temperatures and practices morning, noon and night.
The Prior Lake boys’ lacrosse team spent six glorious days in the Orlando area during its spring break, jetting home just more than a week ago.
“It was awesome,” Lakers coach Chris Fleck said. “I wish we were still there.”
Prior Lake returned to face the harsh reality of an over-the-top Minnesota nasty spring. The Winter That Wouldn’t End has thrown the start of the 2013 season into turmoil, with game after game postponed or simply cancelled because of fields made unplayable by last week’s snowstorm.
Not even a brigade of shovel-wielding lacrosse players and coaches was able to salvage Saturday’s scheduled Minnesota Meltdown, Homegrown Lacrosse’s annual event at McMurray Fields in St. Paul featuring a full day of scrimmages involving about 20 teams playing on McMurray’s three artificial turf fields.
Wintry conditions failed to keep Eastivew and Prior Lake off McMurray Fields in St. Paul on Saturday for a scrimmage. Photo by Loren Nelson
Minneapolis varsity head coach and Homegrown Lacrosse executive director Aron Lipkin said he didn’t get the green light to shovel the fields until Friday afternoon, too late to assemble the manpower needed to get all three fields cleared. Still, with Lipkin’s Minneapolis players, players from St. Paul’s club team, Rogers’ fledgling varsity team and others, one of the three fields was cleared of snow by the time the last shovel was packed away at 1 a.m. Saturday morning.
While the Meltdown was cancelled, Lipkin was unable to immediately get the news to all of the participating teams’ coaches. Elk River/Zimmerman showed up Saturday morning ready to scrimmage, and Lipkin was happy to call in his Minneapolis players as the opponent.
Tim Roche, coach of defending state champion Eastview, asked Lipkin if the Lightning could use the cleared field later in the day. With reserve players standing on sideline snowbanks and balls routinely lost in the drifts, Eastview scrimmaged Rogers and Prior Lake in the early afternoon during intermittent flurries.
Despite the highly unusual setting, playing outdoors offered a welcome relief to teams that have been mostly trapped inside gymnasiums this spring.
Cretin-Derham Hall, a first year Minnesota State High School League program, made an effort to clear its new turf field on Friday. Raiders’ coach Pat Donaghy said the crew of volunteers realized the futility of moving that much heavy snow after about 20 minutes.
“They got out there and realized there was a lot more snow than they had thought,” Donagy said.
Rogers and Cretin-Derham Hall are joined by Tartan, North St. Paul and Delano as first-year MSHSL varsity programs itching to get their first game in the books.
Delano won the state club-level (Minnesota Boys Scholastic Lacrosse Association) championship last season while Cretin-Derham Hall returns All-American Teddy Chapman and features a top Division I prospect in Cal Crawford.
Only a handful of games have been played so far since last week's start to the season. All of those games have been indoors, at facilities in Stillwater, Rochester and Richfield, among others.
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