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Boys' top games: Lakeville North, Shakopee clash in early season conference showdown

By Ryan Williamson, SportsEngine, 04/26/22, 11:15AM CDT


April 26: Two of the top teams in the South Suburban Conference have just one meeting this year, and it could decide who will challenge Prior Lake for the conference crown.

Photo by SportsEngine

We task our reporters with identifying several intriguing games throughout the state to assemble our Top Games of the Week. The matchups are presented in no particular order, and when there are additional games we want to highlight, we’ll include them with brief notes.

Shakopee vs. Lakeville North

5:30 p.m., Tuesday, April 26

Prior Lake has ruled the South Suburban Conference in recent years. However, Shakopee and Lakeville North are right behind the Lakers this year and have the potential to topple Prior Lake. This early-season meeting could have quite the impact on which team has the best shot at the conference crown.

Shakopee, ranked No. 4 in the latest coaches' poll, won last year's meeting 8-7 in a dramatic overtime finish.

Linus Toward was one of the keys in the game for the Sabers. He scored four goals in the 2021 win and went on to be an all-state honorable mention.

Shakopee (2-0) has yet to face a conference opponent but will look to replicate or even improve on last season's 8-1 conference mark that earned the Sabers a second-place finish.

Lakeville North (2-2, 1-1) has already taken some lumps with a tough early schedule. The No. 8 Panthers have already played top teams such as Rosemount, Prior Lake and Minnetonka. The only one of those three they've defeated is the Irish on April 16 in an 8-7 win.

Austin Winship, a junior, scored a goal against the Sabers last season and is off to quite the tear as he already has four goals and six assists for Lakeville North.

Big Lake vs. Becker

6 p.m., Thursday, April 28

The outstate programs still have some work to do when it comes to competing with their metro counterparts. Two of those programs hoping to make a jump into the conversation are Big Lake and Becker, who each compete in the Greater West Metro Conference and Section 8.

So far, the Bulldogs have shown more potential, including when these two squads met on April 19 when Becker won 19-3. However, the Bulldogs followed that with a 14-3 loss against Monticello.

Becker (1-1, 1-1) will rely upon players such as junior midfielder Harrison Kent. He tallied six goals and nine assists last season.

Tyler Heyen was one sign of hope for Big Lake during the first meeting. He tallied a pair of goals against Becker and will likely need to replicate that performance if the Hornets want to exact revenge.

Moorhead vs. Minnetonka

6 p.m., Friday, April 29

Moorhead was the first Greater Minnesota squad to make state last season. The Spuds are looking to build off that and improve against tougher metro competition. That includes a tilt with Minnetonka.

The Skippers, ranked No.  6 in the latest coaches' poll, are certainly considered a contender for the state title and have shown their potential early with a perfect 4-0 start. 

For Minnetonka, the offense starts with senior attacker Isaac Forst and junior midfielder Jackson Blanks. Forst has six goals and five assists already this season. Blanks has eight goals and three assists.

Moorhead (2-1) has taken care of its outstate opponents so far, picking up wins against Grand Rapids/Greenway and Hermantown/Proctor. The Spuds did fall to Shakopee 11-4 on April 16. 

Andrew Searls, a senior attacker, has been an offensive catalyst for Moorhead with five goals and two assists this season.

Other games to keep an eye on

St. Thomas Academy vs. Mahtomedi, 7 p.m., Friday, April 29. These two east metro stalwarts meet with the Zephyrs in the top 10 rankings. However, a win by the Cadets could upend things in the Metro East Conference.

Chanhassen vs. Stillwater, 6 p.m., Saturday, April 30. Though both of these teams are ranked in the top four of the latest coaches' poll, there isn't much history between these two squads. However, it could be a potential state tournament matchup down the line.

Top Games poll

The MN Lax Hub poll is only for entertainment purposes. 

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