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Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Taylor Topousis looks for an opening past Burnsville defenseman Collin Schroeder. Photo by Helen Nelson

It didn’t take a whole lot of research for Burnsville to know who to pay extra attention to on the undefeated Benilde-St. Margaret’s (16-0) team.

Junior attackman Will Hoesley had 76 points (63 goals, 13 assists) for the Red Knights heading into the state semifinal match-up against Burnsville on Tuesday, June 7, at Chanhassen High School.

Although the Blaze held Hoesley to one assist, Benilde-St. Margaret’s emerged victorious as the it squeaked out an 11-10 victory over Burnsville.

Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Taylor Topousis is greeted by Burnsville's Donovan Herby. Photo by Helen Nelson

“Burnsville did a great job limiting (Hoesley) so that’s where the rest of the guys have to step up and produce,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Colin Mulcahy said.

Enter Taylor Topousis.

The senior midfielder and captain scored three goals to lead the Red Knights’ offense.

“He’s the leader of our team,” Mulcahy said. “Hands down. He’s got a lot of heart and he just wants to be on the field because he wants a state championship. Everyone follows his lead, he pushed it every night and tonight he left it out there.

“I’m proud of him and what he did tonight.”

Each of Topousis’ goals would prove more crucial than the last as he notched the final two goals of the game for the Red Knights.

“That’s the great thing with our team -- we have a lot of weapons on offense,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s assistant coach Mike Evans said. “If (Will) Hoesley isn’t getting his goals then someone else needs to step up. Tonight we have a great senior class of guys that are willing to do that.

“It was great to see Taylor (Topousis) and (Christian) Rekow stepping up step up and really take control.”

Topousis was quick to credit his success due to extra attention being paid to the Red Knights’ attack.

“They weren’t sliding very fast from those guys to us so we had more time to shoot it,” Topousis said. “More of the passes went to the midfield and not the attack so that played really well into our offense.”

Burnsville's Bohdi Engum scored four goals against Benilde-St. Margaret's. Photo by Helen Nelson

Regardless of the reason, Topousis capitalized on his chances and played a large role in Benilde-St. Margaret’s victory.

Burnsville coach Jesse Schelitzche noted the plan was to limit the Red Knights’ dangerous attackman.

“It was kind of our focus but Benilde is so good at finishing that we said if they’re going to beat us, they’re going to beat us with their midfielders and we’re going to stay tight on their attackmen,” Schelitzche said. “We did a pretty good job it’s just their midfielders are potent. I think our defense played out of their minds.”

With the victory, the Red Knights advance to their second consecutive state championship and their third since lacrosse became a sanctioned varsity sport.

The Benilde-St. Margaret’s preparation is simple.

“Our game plan is to get healthy,” Mulcahy said. “Everybody is dehydrated after a day like today, take care of the bumps and bruises. The coaches are going to stay around and watch the (White Bear Lake vs. Eden Prairie) game so the game plan is get healthy.”

Top-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s will face No. 2 seed Eden Prairie in the boys state championship game at Chanhassen High School on Thursday, June 9, at 8 p.m.

– Michael Murakami, MN Lax Hub staff

Burnsville's Jake Senta, middle, avoids a collision as the ball pops into the air above Benilde-St. Margaret's Simon Gondeck, left, and Peter Schubloom. Photo by Helen Nelson

Defending champs return to final

On a day when the rest of the Twin Cities was doing everything in its power to cool down, the Benilde-St. Margaret’s boys’ lacrosse team never fully heated up.

But the undefeated, top-seeded and defending state champion Red Knights learned a lesson in perseverance in their state tournament semifinal Tuesday against fourth-seeded Burnsville, scoring three goals in the first four minutes of the second half and hanging on for an 11-10 victory and a berth in Thursday’s championship game at Chanhassen High School against Eden Prairie, which had an equally tough time beating White Bear Lake 5-4. That will be a rematch of an earlier meeting won 10-6 by the Red Knights. But it almost didn’t happen.

Burnsville's Bohdi Engum avoids a diving Joe Pettinger of Benilde-St. Margaret's. Photo by Helen Nelson

“They made us earn everything,” BSM head coach Colin Mulcahy said of Burnsville. “We had to work twice as hard as we have all year.”

With the starting time pushed from 6 to 7 p.m. because of excessive heat, the Red Knights looked out of sorts early and found themselves down 5-3 hole in the second quarter.

Benilde rallied to tie the score 6-6 at the break and built an 11-7 lead in the fourth quarter. But Burnsville continued to keep BSM attacker Will Hoesley off the scoreboard — he had a team-high 63 goals coming in — and moved within a goal with just under a minute remaining before falling short. BSM had seven different players score, led by three goals from midfielder Taylor Topousis.

In addition to the later starting time, teams in the first semifinal were given a one-minute break roughly halfway through each of the four quarters as a safety precaution. Burnsville coach Jesse Schelitzche said his players were spent afterward, but not because of the conditions.

“They were tired more just because they played their brains out,” he said.

– Michael Rand, Star Tribune

Lockdown defense is Childs play for Silvestri

Burnsville attackman Jace Childs has been a nightmare to cover for opposing defensemen during the 2011 season.

Heading into the state semifinal game on Tuesday, June 7, Benilde-St. Margaret’s defense had to get its match-ups perfect.

Red Knights’ senior captain Zach Silvestri was given the task of guarding Childs -- a matchup that gave each player more that they could have expected.

Late in the second quarter, Childs -- who had scored 57 points (41 goals, 17 assists) heading in to Tuesday’s game -- was left wide open on the crease and buried past Benilde-St. Margaret’s goaltender Thomas Gilligan to put the Blaze up 6-5.

Silvestri was quick to respond.

Following a Burnsville turnover, Silvestri carried the ball downfield and found an uncovered Red Knights’ junior attackman, Christian Horn, who finished on the doorstep to tie the game again.

“At the beginning of the second quarter, I challenged (my team),” Benilde-St. Margaret’s coach Colin Mulcahy said. “I said, ‘Who wants to come out and play?’ because it didn’t seem like they came out with a lot of fire to start the game. So I challenged everybody who wanted it, who wanted it more and (Silvestri) stepped up.”

On the opposite end of the field, Silvestri locked down his defensive play.

With Childs racing out from behind the net, Silvestri used a well-timed backcheck that erased Burnsville’s last real chance at a goal in the first half.

“(Silvestri) made those two unbelievable plays and that sparked some fire,” Mulcahy said.

“That’s what you expect for a senior captain,” Benilde-St. Margaret’s assistant coach Mike Evans said. “Zach decided to take the team on his back tonight and really showed what he’s made of and inspired us to play our game.”

Nearing the end of the third quarter, Silvestri once again got the better of the matchup against Burnsville’s leading scorer.

As Childs was heading in on net, virtually uncontested, Silvestri dove and managed to find the Blaze attackman’s stick with another perfect backcheck.

Childs finished with one goal.

-- Michael Murakami, MN Lax Hub staff

Statistics, Summary

1. Taylor Topousis, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
The senior midfielder scored three goals, including what proved to be the winner with 8:34 remaining. Topousis also scored with 2.5 seconds left in the third quarter to put the Red Knights ahead 10-7. Topousis unloaded a game-high 12 shots.

2. Zach Silvestri, Benilde-St. Margaret’s
A senior defenseman, Silvestri was stellar in limiting Burnsville standout Jace Childs’ effectiveness (Childs finished with a single goal). Silvestri also made a gorgeous run down field, showcasing his outstanding speed, before feeding Christian Horn for a second-quarter goal.

3. Bohdi Engum, Burnsville
The senior attackman, working mostly on Red Knights standout Adam Clark, scored four goals. His last goal came with 56.9 seconds remaining and pulled the Blaze to within 11-10.

-- Loren Nelson, MN Lax Hub editor

Benilde-St. Margaret's senior Taylor Topousis celebrates after scoring one of his three goals. Photo by Helen Nelson

Game Recap

No. 1-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s got three goals from senior midfielder Taylor Topousis and scored three unanswered goals in the opening 3 minutes, 43 seconds to break open and tie game and hang on for an 11-10 victory over No. 4 seed Burnsville on Tuesday, June 7, in the semifinals of the Minnesota State High School League state tournament at Chanhassen High School.

The No. 1-ranked and unbeaten Red Knights (17-0) trailed the Blaze (11-7) for much of the first half before managing to pull into a 6-6 tie at halftime on a goal by Christian Horn.

Benilde-St. Margaret’s, the defending state champion, raced to a 9-6 lead to start the third quarter on goals from Topousis, Jack Naughtin and Peter Schubloom.

Bohdi Engum scored four goals for Burnsville, which lost to Benilde-St. Margaret’s 15-5 to start the regular season. The Blaze were missing several starters in that mid-April matchup.

Burnsville trailed by as much as 11-7 in the fourth quarter but scored the final three goals to make for a tension-filled finish.

-- Loren Nelson, MN Lax Hub editor

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