By Chris Goldberg
Phillylacrosse.com, Posted 11/27/15
It did not win a game, but Team Minnesota’s performance was one of the top stories at last weekend’s Nike Philly Freshman Showcase at United Sports.
While established programs such as Laxachusetts, Edge Elite, FCA Maryland and Team 91 went undefeated, Team Minnesota – with only 13 players – competed in Sunday’s Team Invitational and held its own in three defeats. Still, the program’s first Fall event featured many positives.
Two of its players – defenseman Quentin Matsui (Eden Prairie) and midfielder Collin Penn (Eden Prairie) – made the Fab 40 All-Star Team. Also, midfielder Tyler Johnson (East Ridge) competed in the tourney just 11 weeks after being told he was in remission from Stage 4 Nodular Lymphocyte Predominant Hodgkin’s lymphoma — a rare form of Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
What’s more, the team had only 13 players (Many are playing ice hockey at this time of year) and several of them arrived early Sunday morning and got only a few hours of sleep. None of the losses to mighty Laxachusetts (MA), Thunder (GA) and STEPS (N.J.) were blowouts and in each game the team competed hard.
“I thought we did pretty well for having a small roster,” said Johnson. “We were a little big gassed in the last game, but I think we did well despite the low numbers.”
Johnson said his endurance was good.
“I felt I played well and wasn’t falling behind,” he said. “I was a little tired, but we had only 13 guys and everyone was tired.”
“It was really exciting to get back to playing with good competition and being with my friends out here. This was definitely the best kids I have seen so far. It was fun playing; now we know what to work on to be up there with them.”
Gavin McDonough (Blake School) played the entire way in goal. He said the event proved that Minnesota lacrosse has reached a new plateau.
“I mean, most people don’t even know they play lacrosse in Minnesota,” he said. “It was nice to surprise some people and show we can play lacrosse.”
McDonough was happy he arrived early and was well rested for the tourney.
“It’s tough being the only goalie,” he said. “I think that considering we had 13 guys – which isn’t the whole team – we did pretty well. The midfielders and attackmen were gassed, but they did well. We struggled a little, but when you consider the players we faced we did well.”
McDoough was impressed with the level of competition.
“We have been to some competitive tournaments, but this had more talent throughout.” he said. “This has been a real high level of play.”
The two All-Stars, Matsui and Penn, were thrilled to make the Fab 40.
“Coming into the tournament, I was really excited. I just wanted to play well and have a good time,” said Matsui. “It was a lot of fun. My goal was to make the All-Star Game.
“Today we just wanted to get used to playing with each other and to play together and we did that.
Penn said the level of play was high.
“It was higher than I usually play against,” he said. “It was a bit difficult at first, but I got the hang of it and adjusted to the skill level. I had to get the ball out of my stick faster!
“I think I jelled with the guys (in the All-Star Game). There was a variety of talent. I wanted to show my teammates there is more to the game of lacrosse in Minnesota.”