Falcons bounce back after 4-OT heartbreak

Sports Editor

The Armstrong boys lacrosse team opened the 2017 season with five consecutive wins, before falling 5-4 to Osseo/Park Center in four overtime periods May 10.

Armstrong’s Jack Piazza carries the ball upfield after forcing a turnover during the Falcons’ 7-3 loss to Eden Prairie May 12. (Sun Post staff photo by Chris Chesky)

The Falcons knew they didn’t have time to hang their heads after the tough loss, as Armstrong took on Eden Prairie, a perennial state title contender, May 12.

While the Falcons fell to 5-2 on the season with a 7-3 loss, Armstrong was tied 3-3 with the Eagles at half and held Eden Prairie to its second-lowest scoring output of the season.

“I’m feeling really great,” Armstrong head boys lacrosse coach Luke Gellerman said. “It was really somber after Wednesday, losing to a team we really wanted to beat in Osseo/Park Center, who beat us on our own home field last year.

“To come out and play the way we did against a top-two team in the state is phenomenal. It was a 180-degree turnaround and we played a team that is well-coached, disciplined and so athletic.”

Eden Prairie’s reputation as a dominant team didn’t play a factor in the Falcons’ preparation, as Gellerman said a key to his team’s success was going out and playing its game.

“We came out fearless and that’s the way we need to play the rest of the year,” Gellerman said. “Our saying is ‘head up, next target’ and you can see them now with their heads up, they’re happy.

“We are truly happy after this performance.”

Riley Enderle began the scoring for the Falcons with a goal with 2:54 left in the first quarter to tie the game at one at the time, before Matthew Zehrer scored goals with 8:35 and three minutes left in the second quarter to tie the game at 3-3 going into halftime after Eden Prairie took a 3-1 lead.

Eden Prairie played to a 4-0 second half to ultimately take the 7-3 loss, but Gellerman was pleased with his team’s effort.

“They put the pressure on us in the second half and it was hard to escape from it,” Gellerman said. “Their defense is that athletic, so they tried to deny our options.

“If we fix our little mistakes, this game is in overtime. We just had little breakdowns of our approaches or leaving guys open on the crease for the cutters, but phenomenal effort and enthusiasm throughout.”

Eden Prairie has been held to under nine goals just two other times this season, and Gellerman believes his defense should be pleased with how it performed.

“We believe that we are one of the more athletic defenses in the state and we just have to get a little smarter,” Gellerman said. “There were little breakdowns, but we played smart team defense that was constantly communicating.

“Henry Foreman is one of the best goalies in the state of Minnesota, hands down. We have a lot of trust and love for him and he never lets us down.”

Foreman made 14 saves in the contest, including some clutch saves to keep the game tied at 3-3 in the first half.

“Really, we play as a team, we fight with our hearts and play with our hearts,” Foreman said. “This will be a huge momentum shift, especially after our loss to OPC.

“Knowing we can play with one of the best teams in the state, we respect them a lot, that we can ball through the rest of our season and play hard.”

With six games remaining on the regular season schedule, Gellerman believes the time is now for his team to play the best lacrosse possible.

“This was our first week of three weeks where we have three games per week,” Gellerman said. “Next week is Monday, Wednesday, Saturday and then it is Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday.

“We’re grinding, we know it and the guys want it.”

The Falcons will play their next game of the season against Anoka at 7 p.m. Saturday, May 20, at Anoka High School.

Contact Chris Chesky at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter at @MNSunSports or @SunSportsChris.