MAHTOMEDI, Minnesota – Led by tournament MVP Peter Schubloom, the St. Thomas men’s lacrosse team took down rivals St. John’s and North Dakota State University en route to the Upper Midwest Lacrosse Conference Division-II championship.
After losing to the Bison 15-13 and the Johnnies 10-9 earlier this week, the Tommies were able to exact revenge against the only two teams to beat them this year.
“We felt like we were in good position in both games in the regular season but obviously didn’t get the wins,” coach Brian Gross said. “To come out and get the wins when it’s most important was really good.”
St. Thomas defeated St. John’s 13-9 on Saturday afternoon after falling behind early and playing from behind for much of the game. The Tommies were able to overtake the Johnnies behind three goals each from Schubloom and midfielder Ryan McNeil.
“Lacrosse is absolutely a game of runs,” Schubloom said. “It’s all about momentum and hoping we can find a moment to strike and continue to push. Being behind makes you hungry.”
St. Thomas trailed St. John’s by three near the end of the second quarter. That’s when the Tommies went on a run, outscoring the Johnnies 11-4 over the final two frames.
“That’s one of the unique thing about this year’s team. They don’t get rattled,” Gross said. “Whether they have a lead or whether they’re playing from behind, we play the same way. We execute the same systems. We don’t change anything up.”
After their thrilling comeback victory Saturday, the Tommies set their sights on the Bison. This time the Tommies were the ones jumping out to an early three-goal lead. St. Thomas didn’t look back, never relinquishing its lead en route to an 11-8 victory.
Midfielder Matt Kleven led the Tommies with four points and Schubloom added a pair of goals against North Dakota State to lock up the tournament MVP award.
“It was kind of a full circle thing,” said Schubloom. “My Elite coach as I was growing up and developing actually sponsored the tournament and gave the award out. It was really cool.”
The Tommies will now set their sights on the national tournament starting on May 11 at Chapman Stadium at the University of California-Irvine.
“We’re excited to have a nice amount of momentum going out there,” said Gross. “Two wins against some really good ranked teams is obviously good as we prepare for the tournament over the next two weeks. Our goal this year is to be celebrating on May 16 when we play for the championship.”
Zach Neubauer can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.