Champlin Park's Cody Schmitt, left, chases after a loose ball with Totino-Grace's Josh Radjenovich. Photo by Katherine Matthews
Senior attackman Ryan McNeil is the runaway scoring leader for Champlin Park.
He’s quick and crafty, and can bury the ball from most anywhere on the field.
McNeil had a hat trick before Totino-Grace could register a single goal on Tuesday, June 11, in the Rebels’ eventual 12-9 victory at Chaska High School in the quarterfinals of the state tournament.
Champlin Park is hardly a one-man team, however. On the contrary, this is a FAMILY. It says so in huge capital letters stretching across the bottom of Champlin Park’s uniforms.
More than a coach-mandated catchphrase, this family thing is serious business for the Rebels. Just listen to McNeil.
“All year there have been a lot guys paying attention to me, but we have five other guys on the field besides me that can bury the ball and move the ball just as well as I can,” said McNeil, who scored 70 points in the regular season, more than twice as many as the Rebels’ No. 2 scorer Luke Dalman (31 points). “I have a lot of confidence in all these guys.”
Turns out McNeil’s confidence is well-placed. Just when the Eagles started to clamp down on the Rebels’ scoring whiz, junior midfielder Luke Dalman found his scoring groove.
Just as McNeil scored three goals in the first quarter, Dalman scored three in the second quarter. Champlin Park, making its first state tournament appearance, led 9-7 at the half, and Totino-Grace could never get closer than two goals the rest of the way.
“They are probably our leading stat guys, but it has been pretty balanced,” Champlin Park coach Eric Borer said about his team’s playoff scoring. “But when you need your big guys to step up they do, which was good today.”
Totino-Grace had the game’s top scorer in Josh Radjenovich, who pumped in five in a command performance. Unlike Champlin Park’s McNeil-Dalman combo, Totino-Grace’s scoring was mostly a solo act. Other than Radjenovich, no Eagles player scored more than two goals.
Important contributions were made on the defensive side for Champlin Park, too. Borer mentioned key fourth-quarter stops that hinged on the play of junior defensemen Cole Groebner and Matthew Steenerson. McNeil also gave a nod to the Rebels’ defensemen, and their goaltender, senior Joey Dokken.
“When they got within two we knew we were going to get some stops by our defense, which we did,” McNeil said. “And our goalie stepped up huge in the fourth quarter and third quarter.
“And we got a goal (by Nick Bunde in the fourth quarter) when we needed it to put the game away.”
That’s pretty much every family member contributing to the Rebels’ victory. That’s how it works for Champlin Park, which improved to 14-2.
“We always talk about this family atmosphere, and it’s great to have him out there,” Dalman said about McNeil. “Everyone of our players on this team, they mean a lot. And Ryan, he is a big leader and big goal scorer, so that helps out a ton.”
-- Loren Nelson
Senior attackman Ryan McNeil scored four goals, and junior midfielder Luke Dalman had three as No. 3 seed Champlin Park topped unseeded Totino-Grace 12-9 in the first of Tuesday’s boys’ state tournament quarterfinal games at Chaska High School.
Trailing 11-8 to begin the fourth quarter, Totino-Grace got a goal from Alex Johnson just eight seconds into the final period. But Champlin Park’s Nick Bunde later scored his first goal of the game with 6:15 remaining to build the winning 12-9 margin.
The first two quarters followed a similar pattern, with Totino-Grace (9-6) continually rallying to keep the Rebels (14-2) from pulling away.
Totino-Grace’s Joe Hegedus and Josh Radjenovich scored in the final minute of the second half as Champlin Park rallied from what had been an 8-3 deficit to pull within 9-7 at halftime.
Coming out of a Rebels’ timeout, Hegedus scored with 53 seconds left in the half. Radjenovich followed with his fourth goal of the first half and third of the second quarter with 47 seconds left in the half.
The Rebels scored the first five goals – three of them by McNeil – and led 5-3 after the first quarter.
Dalman scored twice in the early stages of the second quarter as Champlin Park poured in three unanswered goals to regain its five-goal advantage. Totino-Grace outscored Champlin Park 4-1 to end the first half, with Radjenovich getting the rally started with back-to-back goals.
Radjenovich, a senior attackman, finished with a game-high five goals.
Totino-Grace goaltender Jack Burn made seven of his nine saves in the second half. Champlin Park goaltender Joey Dokken finished with five saves.
1. Ryan McNeil, Champlin Park
McNeil recorded a hat trick before Totino-Grace even managed to score a goal. The Rebels bloted to an early 5-0 lead in the first quarter, three of those goals came from McNeil. He recorded four goals and one assist to lead the Rebels in scoring as he had his way with the Eagles' defenders around the crease.
2. Joshua Radjenovich, Totino-Grace
Radjenovich was the main source of offense for the Eagles, leading the team and the game with five goals. Every time Champlin Park seemed to be pulling away the senior attacker would find an answer. If not for the performance of Radjenovich, the Eagles likely would have struggled to keep the game close.
3. Luke Dalman, Champlin Park
Dalman teamed with McNeil to form the lethal 1-2 scoring punch that carried the Rebels to victory. He recorded three goals and an assist and had to carry the offense at times after Totino-Grace found a way to neutralize McNeil.
-- John Kelsey