Benilde-St. Margaret’s senior boys’ lacrosse players Eric Weber and Quinn Ehlen found a new physical edge from this past fall.
Both played football on the Red Knights varsity, suiting up for the first time since elementary school. They helped the Class 4A defending champions go 8-0 in the regular season before losing to Orono in the Section 5 playoffs.
“I figured it was time to jump back into football for my senior year,” said Weber, who played tight end. “I definitely am more willing to throw my body around on ground balls after playing football this fall.”
Weber and Ehlen, the lacrosse team’s top goal scorers, have led the top-ranked squad to a 12-0 regular season record. The Red Knights, the 2017 state runner-up, could look ahead to another state final, but the lesson of how football ended still lingers for Weber.
“It definitely puts things in perspective. We’ve had a very successful regular season, just like football,” he said. “We definitely are staying true to what we have continued to do all year and hope to make a run again. Step by step is how we do it.”
Red Knights lacrosse coach Rob Horn said his team really doesn’t fixate on won-loss records or getting back to the state final. With a 12-5 victory over Bloomington Jefferson on Tuesday, the team clinched the Metro West Conference title.
“We measure success by playing a complete game,” Red Knights senior goalie Jackson “Buzz” Williams said. “Basically from the time the first whistle goes off until the final horn, we must give what we call a ‘shocking effort.’ ”
Williams has established himself as one of the top goalies in the state over the past two seasons with a .611 save percentage and 5.57 goals-allowed average this year, both improvements from 2017. Claiming the nickname “Buzz” from one of his favorite childhood movie characters, Buzz Lightyear from “Toy Story,” Williams chose the character’s catchphrase “to infinity and beyond” as his senior quote.
“I suppose it could be used in a bunch of different ways like always trying my hardest to succeed,” said Williams, who commits himself to four Cs in the net — confidence, composure, concentration and commitment.
He has a strong defense around him, too, with sophomore defensemen Seamus Foley and Jack Rigley, who has committed to Army, both garnering more than 27 ground balls apiece. Sophomore midfielder Jack Budniewski helps in transition with a team-leading 64 ground balls.
“We play methodical,” Weber said. “Our style is valuing the ball and possession because that is what wins games.”
Weber co-leads the team in goals with 21 and has 17 assists. Ehlen also has 21 goals, along with seven assists. Sophomore attack Jack VanOverbeke has a team-high 24 assists along with seven goals.
Benilde-St. Margaret’s averages 10.4 goals per game and has a 5.5-point average margin of victory. The Red Knights have won five games by three goals or less, including an 8-7 victory over defending state champion Eagan (7-3) on April 28.
Before the Red Knights can even think about Eagan again, they will have to get through Section 5, which has quality teams in Breck (7-4), Armstrong (6-6) and rival Blake (7-5). It took a five-goal third period for the Red Knights to break away from Blake for a 10-6 victory on May 10. The rivals met in the section final for two consecutive years, splitting those matchups. A third could occur June 6.
“If it comes, we’re ready,” Weber said. “We’re not huge fans of each other.”