White Bear Lake senior Ted Ramert scored three goals in Tuesday's 9-6 state tournament quarterfinal victory over Blake. Photo by Brian Nelson
Strength of schedule is not much of a, for lack of a better word, strength for White Bear Lake.
The Bears play in the Suburban East Conference, a league with some established east metro programs such as Stillwater and Woodbury sprinkled in with newcomers to the varsity level such as Cretin-Derham Hall and Hastings.
White Bear Lake, the dominant Suburban East team for the past two seasons, is committed to playing nine conference games each season. That leaves four slots for nonconference foes. One of those games automatically goes to Mahtomedi, a Classic Suburban Conference powerhouse and neighbor to the east that is easily the Bears’ biggest rival.
As for the remaining three nonconference games, Bears coach Brandon Husak says he’s lobbied coaches from several of the state’s dominant western and southern programs to add White Bear Lake to their schedules. He hasn’t had much success.
“We spend year after year wanting to play better competition and play teams on the west side,” Husak said after White Bear Lake’s 9-6 state tournament quarterfinal victory over Blake on Tuesday, June 11, at Chaska High School. “If this is the venue to do it, so be it.”
White Bear Lake, which went 9-0 in the Suburban East and 11-1 overall in the regular season, struck a blow for north and east metro lacrosse by rallying from a 5-4 deficit early in the second half with five unanswered goals. Three of those goals came with White Bear Lake a man up.
White Bear Lake had charged to a 3-1 lead early in the second quarter on the strength of three Ted Ramert goals.
“Coming out, being from the (eastside), we don’t get much respect,” Ramert said. “We don’t really get to play these kinds of teams in the regular season. So we came out just ready to go, ready to prove what we could do.”
White Bear Lake, which won a state club championship in 2007, made previous Minnesota State High School League state tournament appearances in 2008 and 2011. That was when the state tournament was limited to four teams. This is the first year it has been expanded to eight. White Bear Lake has never reached an MSHSL championship game.
“These teams, they underestimate us because we never play them,” White Bear Lake senior midfielder Nick Truen said. “They are like, ‘White Bear Lake, who is that? They can’t compete with us.’ ”
Six players scored for White Bear Lake against Blake. Truen, Gahm, David Costello, Jared Bartz and Connar Dehnert all scored during White Bear Lake’s game-clinching spurt.
“Everyone started putting them in the net,” Ramert said. “They were coming from all angles, all different players. So that was awesome to get the well-balanced scoring. They didn’t know who to cover, where to slide from. That was nice.”
That sort of balance is normally reserved for traditional powerhouses such as, say, Eden Prairie. The same Eden Prairie that is undefeated, top-ranked and, as it happens, White Bear Lake’s state semifinal opponent at 7 p.m. on Thursday at Chanhassen High School.
-- Loren Nelson
No. 4 seed White Bear Lake No. 5 Blake played a back-and-forth contest one would expect from evenly-matched teams until a third-quarter charge put White Bear Lake ahead to stay in a 9-6 victory on Tuesday, June 11, in the state tournament quarterfinals at Chaska High School.
Blake (10-6) took charge early in the third quarter with goals from Quinn Ellis and Bryan Kennedy just one minute and nine seconds in.
Trailing 5-4, White Bear Lake (15-1) rallied to score the next five goals to build a 9-5 fourth quarter lead. Five White Bear Lake players scored during the surge.
Three of White Bear Lake's goals during its 5-0 second-half spurt came while it was a man up. Trenton Gahm, David Costello and Jared Bartz each scored man-up goals in the final 1:18 of the third quarter.
White Bear Lake led 8-5 heading into the final quarter and increased the advantage to 9-5 when Connar Dehnert scored with 6:44 remaining.
White Bear Lake held a 4-3 halftime edge.
Ted Ramert scored three goals and Bartz had two for White Bear Lake.
Ned Hartfiel led Blake with three goals.
1. Ted Ramert, White Bear Lake
The senior attacker left little doubt about who should be named the top star in this game. He led the game in scoring by a pretty wide margin, finishing with 5 points on 3 goals and 2 assists. The White Bear Lake offense ran through Ramert and looked noticeably different when he was not on the field. He also had to carry the team offensively when they were still struggling to find their rhythm in the first half.
2. Ned Hartfiel, Blake
Hartfiel was without a doubt the offensive MVP for the Blake Bears. His hat trick accounted for half of the Blake goals and he seemed to be giving the White Bear Lake defenders trouble all day long. He scored two important goals in the second quarter that kept his team within striking distance when White Bear was attempting to pull away.
3. Douglas Ptacek, White Bear Lake
Ptacek got off to slow start in goal for White Bear but he played his best when it mattered most. He only allowed one goal in the final 23 minutes of the game and his stellar play is what allowed his team to take and eventually hold the lead. He finished with 8 saves on 14 shots for a .571 save percentage.
-- John Kelsey
White Bear Lake goalie Douglas Ptacek