St. Louis Park sophomore Matt Harkema unloads a shot for one of his seven goals against Shattuck-St. Mary's. Photo by Loren Nelson
Change is constant in the Minnesota Boys Scholastic Lacrosse Association, where teams come and go, rivalries run hot and cold and the balance of power can shift dramatically from year to year.
Even St. Louis Park, a fixture in the MBSLA championship mix since winning the first of its two state titles in 2008, is in the midst of a new-look season.
Just look at Kevin Reed.
The MBSLA president and Orioles coach has taken to wearing a fedora as he works the sideline. Make that fedoras.
“I’ve got one for home and away,” Reed says.
St. Louis Park coach Kevin Reed. Photo by Loren Nelson
St. Louis Park’s makeover runs deeper than their dapper coach. It also includes a new home field. The Orioles have traded their old digs, the bare bones shaggy grass field next to the St. Louis Park Middle School, for the manicured artificial turf at St. Louis Park High School’s sprawling football stadium.
While former rivals Orono (two seasons ago) and then Delano (this season) have moved up to the Minnesota State High School League, the Orioles still have one (somewhat) old foe remaining in Shattuck-St. Mary’s.
St. Louis Park and the Sabres have had some epic clashes since first meeting in 2009, an 8-5 St. Louis Park victory. Shattuck-St. Mary’s had won the next three meetings, including a 6-5 triumph last year, before the teams met on Monday at St. Louis Park High School.
“Shattuck has always been a heated battle for us, Reed said after the No. 5-ranked Orioles held on to beat the No. 1 Sabres 14-12. “In the last couple of years we have been close or we have had leads and let them slip.
“I love their style of play. I love how hard they go at it, and it’s fun to get in a track meet with a team and win.”
The run-and-gun style appears to suit St. Louis Park, especially the duo of junior Carlos Siguenza and sophomore Matt Harkema. With Siguenza, the quarterback of the Orioles’ offense, finding Harkema with crisp pass after crisp pass, it seemed there was little the Sabres could do to stop the pair.
“It’s great having him, because then you know you can beat a guy and then when the slide comes, it’s always him who is wide open,” Siguenza said about Harkema, who has a wicked shot.” He moves around really well and he gets open. He’s a really good finisher, so it’s just one-two-in. It works out really well every game.”
Sophomore Matt Harkema has emerged as St. Louis Park's go-to scorer. Photo by Loren Nelson
Harkema has 39 goals in nine games, and Siguenza has 22 goals and 43 assists.
“I probably get at least three freebie goals a game just from him,” Harkema said about Siguenza.
Another constant for the Orioles has been the steady play of Will Harkema, Matt’s older brother. A varsity regular since he was a freshman, Will made several difficult saves against the Sabres. Will said the emergence of his brother as a go-to scoring threat has only helped his game.
“He practices every day,” Will Harkema, a senior, said about his little brother. “He works with his stick day and night. He never goes anywhere without it. He loves lacrosse.
“He is always bugging me to go get shots on me, so he probably makes me a better player, too."
St. Louis Park junior Carlos Siguenza scored four goals in Monday's upset of No. 1-ranked Shattuck-St. Mary's. Photo by Loren Nelson
Sophomore attackman Matt Harkema scored seven goals to lead No. 5-ranked St. Louis Park to a 14-12 upset victory over previously unbeaten No. 1 Shattuck-St. Mary's in a matchup of Minnesota Boys' Scholastic Lacrosse Association powers on Monday, May 13, at the St. Louis Park Football Stadium.
Orioles coach Kevin Reed said Harkema has mastered the art of moving around the crease, and Harkema, with his 6-foot-5 frame, seemingly always was the open man in front of the net. On numerous occasions Orioles standout midfielder Carlos Siguenza passed the ball from up top and Harkema did the rest -- spinning, dodging, and shooting around defenders for the score.
Siguenza, the Orioles' faceoff man, is also a master at his craft. He won 14 draws against the the Sabres (4-1). Siguenza leads the MBSLA in ground balls by a landslide, and he added 19 to his season total against the Sabres to go along with his four goals.
The teams traded a combined 11 goals in the first quarter, setting the offense-heavy tone.
Andrew Farny, Anthony Brodeur and Cole Bond each had hat tricks for the Sabres.
St. Louis Park (8-1) led 9-8 at the half.
The turning point came in the third quarter when the Sabres' Franklin Spellman was charged with four minutes worth of non-releasable penalties. Harkema score twice on the prolonged man advantage.
-- Trevor Squire
Carlos Siguenza, left, and Matt Harkema celebrate a St. Louis Park goal. Photo by Loren Nelson
1. Matt Harkema, St. Louis Park
Does the sophomore ever miss? It sure doesn't seem like it. He scored seven goals on cannon blast after cannon blast, cashing in on almost all of his opportunities. Harkema also showed some versatility -- and strength -- in the second half by curling out from behind the net and muscling home short-range shots.
2. Carlos Siguenza, St. Louis Park
The junior midfielder scored four goals, won 14 faceoffs and scooped 19 ground balls while playing all but a few minutes in what has become a typical do-everything performance. He also quarterbacked the Orioles’ offense, finding an open Harkema for a handful of goals.
3. Andrew Farny, Shattuck-St. Mary’s
Farny scored in a wild first quarter – as did most everyone else from both teams – and added two more goals in the fourth quarter as the Sabres fought mightily to keep the game close.
-- Loren Nelson