Eden Prairie's senior Brooks Armitage, left, shields the ball from a Rochester Mayo defender. Photo by Brian Nelson
Ryan Ward was cruising past the Eden Prairie High School’s sprawling athletic fields with no intention of stopping. It was a Saturday, an off day, yet the Eagles’ coach had spotted one of his players out on the main stadium’s field.
Further investigation was required.
“I’m like hey Brooksie, what are you up to?” Ward said, referring to senior attackman Brooks Armitage. “And he was like, ‘Aw, I’m just doing a cross-fit workout.”
A cross-fit workout means push-ups and running. Sit-ups and more running. Jumping jacks, squats and, you guessed it, even more running. Bike riding doesn’t come standard with the sessions, yet that was Armitage’s mode of transportation for the day -- more out of necessity than ambition.
“None of my brothers are back from college, they kind of take my cars,” Armitage said. “So I just rode my bike up to the high school.”
Ward’s chance run-in with Armitage became especially noteworthy after No. 1-ranked, unbeaten and top-seeded Eden Prairie’s 16-3 triumph over unseeded Rochester Mayo in the state tournament quarterfinals on Tuesday, June 11, at Chaska High School.
Eden Prairie senior Brooks Armitage celebrates after scoring one of his five goals. Photo by Brian Nelson
Armitage scored a game-high five goals and dished out three assists while serving as the catalyst of a slow-starting Eden Prairie offense. The performance comes more than a week after Armitage suffered a drop in his fitness level while dealing with a case of tonsillitis.
“He wasn’t happy where he was, and he was working to get better,” Ward said. “And look at him tonight. He was the best player on our team tonight by far. He’s totally unselfish. He’s kind of the big example of what we are looking for out of our guys.”
Eden Prairie (16-0) is the overwhelming favorite to win this year’s state tournament. But the Eagles were hardly extraordinary as they struggled to get their offense going in the first quarter and well into the second. Rochester Mayo (11-5) pulled within 3-2 with 5 minutes, 37 seconds left in the first half. Eden Prairie responded by scoring the next three goals, including two by Armitage, to finish the half with a 6-2 lead.
Armitage said state tournament jitters played a role in the sputtering start, even though Eden Prairie has made four previous state tournament appearances – in 2007, 2008, 2011 and last year. The Eagles finished as the runner-up each time.
“I felt like the whole team came out slow because we have the jitters for the state tournament,” said Armitage, Eden Prairie’s leading scoring in the regular season with 50 points. “It just gets us every time.
“But I think our second half is what we were looking for. You just have to get comfortable and find your groove. Our coach kind of gave us a mouthful at halftime to kind of get us checked in. After that we kind of just refocused ourself and did what we have been doing all year.”
For Armitage that means cutting from behind the goal, finding open teammates with passes or beating too-slow defenders for goals. The ultra quick Mr. Lacrosse finalist looked to be in top form, his fitness concerns having been fully addressed.
“A lot better,” Armitage said. “I just felt good out there.”
-- Loren Nelson
Eden Prairie players celebrate another goal as they cruised to victory over Rochester Mayo. Photo by Brian Nelson
Senior attackman Brooks Armitage scored five goals and fellow frontline "Hobbit" Charlie Venable scored three as undefeated and top-ranked Eden Prairie rolled to a 16-3 victory against Rochester Mayo on Tuesday, June 11, in the quarterfinals of the state tournament at Chaska High School.
The top-seeded Eagles (16-0) scored seven unanswered goals in the third quarter to leave no doubt about the victory over the unseeded Spartans (11-5).
In what has beocme a typical display of its scoring depth, six players took part in Eden Prairie's 7-0 third-quarter scoring outburst. Armitage scored twice and Nic Bentz, Ronnie Spielmann, J.D. Spielmann, Jake Woodring and Venable all added single goals.
A pair of three-goal runs fueled Eden Prairie’s 6-2 halftime lead.
Venable scored two of the Eagles’ first three goals. Rochester Mayo’s Ethan Moore and Wyatt Ryan countered and cut Eden Prairie’s lead to 3-2.
Armitage helped grow Eden Prairie’s lead by scoring two of his three first half goals.
Rochester Mayo played without leading scorer Mike Fix, a senior attackman who suffered a season-ended shoulder injury in the Spartans' Section 1 championship victory over Lakeville North.
1. Brooks Armitage, Eden Prairie
Rochester Mayo's defenders had no answer for the senior attackman. The game’s leading scorer with five goals and two assists showed an incredible knack for finishing around the net. Eden Prairie's leading scorer with 50 points during the regular season showed why he was a Mr. Lacrosse finalist.
2. Charlie Venable, Eden Prairie
Venable recorded a relatively quiet hat trick in the Eagles' convincing win. He was extremely efficient when he got the ball and made no mistakes when he was in a scoring area. Two of his goals came in the first quarter when the game was still up for grabs, and Venable completed the hat trick later in the third quarter when the Eagles began to pull away.
3. J.D. Spielmann, Eden Prairie
Spielmann was a spark plug for the Eagles when they needed it early on. He provided energy from midfield when the Eden Prairie’s offense was sputtering through the first half. He finished with two goals and an assist.
-- John Kelsey
Eden Prairie's J.D. Spielmann scores from short range. Photo by Brian Nelson