Stormy weather forced the postponement of the boys’ lacrosse state championship for the second time in three nights on Monday, and MSHSL officials had to scramble to come up with a plan beyond their backup plan.
The decision to play the game at 11 a.m. on Tuesday at Rosemount High School wasn’t universally applauded.
“I think we are in unchartered territory here,” boys’ tournament director Rich Matter said. “Actually I know we are. We’ve never had the championship game postponed twice.”
The fields at Chaska and Chanhassen high schools have served as the venues for this year’s boys’ and girls’ state tournaments, but both were booked with other events on Tuesday. That left Matter looking for an alternate site Monday evening for Tuesday’s rescheduled game. He gave Rosemount, the tournament’s top-seeded team, the first option to host the championship.
“Rosemount was the No. 1 seed, and the site is available,” Matter said about the Irish’s grass field.
Eden Prairie coach Ryan Ward believes the game should be held at a neutral site. He and Eden Prairie school officials lobbied to have the game played Hopkins, a site they said they learned was available. The No. 2-seeded Eagles are the defending state champion.
“And that took one phone call,” Ward said about determing the game could be played at Hopkins. “I know for a fact that other neutral sites are available. Why in the heck would we go play on grass at Rosemount? It should be a neutral site, and it should be on (artificial) turf.”
Matter and the MSHSL weren’t budging on their decision.
“It is final that we are going to go with the high seed, the Rosemount site,” he said. “We needed to start early so we have some options rather than scheduling it for 7 again.
More thunderstorms are forecast for Tuesday through Friday.
“We’re just hopeful we can get the game in,” Matter said.
Rosemount coach Lance Kuehn walked the Irish’s field Monday evening and said it was draining well. He said the Irish have played three games in the rain at their home stadium this season and haven’t have any issues with the turf.
“Two summers ago it got re-crowned and re-sodded,” Kuehn said. “I walked on it about an hour ago. It’s fine.”
Saturday's postponement: Rosemount and Eden Prairie were geared up and ready to make their respective marches from the basement locker rooms deep inside Chanhassen High School to the adjacent stadium when lightning struck. And struck, and struck and struck.
MSHSL officials eventually made the ruling to push Saturday’s scheduled 7 p.m. boys’ championship between the Irish and Eagles back to Monday at the same time and location after powerful storms pounded the Chanhassen area with lightning, strong winds and heavy rain.
As the boys’ teams were preparing to take the field, the girls’ championship game between Blake and Eden Prairie was suspended with 3 minutes, 41 seconds left and Blake leading 11-7. The Bears were awarded the victory by rule because at least 80 percent of the game had been completed.
Both Eden Prairie coach Ryan Ward and Rosemount coach Lance Kuehn said they were disappointed their game didn’t go off as scheduled. But both coaches said MSHSL officials were given little choice to postpone the game given the dangerous weather conditions.
“You don’t mess with lightning, especially when you are holding metal sticks,” said Ward, who lives in Chanhassen, after he returned home from the high school. “It is still black here, and there’s still lightning going off.”
Kuehn said he was told the game could have started as late as 11 p.m. if the storms passed. That potential scenario didn’t appeal to either of the coaches.
“How good of a game would that have been?” Kuehn said. “Do you want to end on a wet note with guys who are tired and haven’t eaten in hours?”
-- Loren Nelson