Three facets have transformed the Prior Lake boys’ lacrosse team into a squad with a 9-0 record and the No. 1 ranking from the coaches association.
First, coach Chris Fleck, an alumnus of the school, had a goal of building a program that he and the school could be proud of long in the future.
Second, senior midfielder Cullen Sowder, who committed two years ago to Ohio State, is one of the best players in the state.
Finally, the team is a blend of unselfish players and teammates.
“It brings me a lot of pride being able to come back to my hometown and help us become successful on the lacrosse field,” said Fleck, who graduated from Prior Lake in 2003. “I was part of Prior Lake’s very first lacrosse program, and we’ve been able to see the rapid growth of the game here in our community.”
Sowder has been a member of the varsity squad since he was an eighth-grader. The Lakers finished 8-7 that season.
“My class has basically been the pioneers of Prior Lake lacrosse,” Sowder said. “Nobody knew anything about us. We were an under-the-radar team when I was in eighth grade.”
The next three years were spent learning how to play and win as a team. The Lakers enjoyed their best season a year ago, finishing with an overall mark of 13-3.
“We have grown as individuals and a team,” Sowder said. “Everybody works so well together now. That’s something we’re very proud of.”
As good as last season was, it also left a bitter taste in the mouths of the Lakers’ returning players. They lost to Rosemount 11-10 in the Section 3 final.
“We came into the season having had success,” Sowder said. “We also had a chip on our shoulder from our section championship game last year. We want redemption.”
The undefeated Lakers have gotten it two-thirds of the way through the season. They have outscored their opponents 115-47 through nine games. The have had two two-goal games, one of which was an 11-9 victory at Rosemount in a South Suburban Conference matchup.
“The best part about our team, is we really do have a bunch of guys who contribute,” Fleck said. “It’s tough to shut down just one of our players because we have others who can create and score.”
Sowder and sophomore attacker Carter Collins lead the team with 22 goals. Junior midfielder Ben Ward has scored 20 goals, while senior attacker Conner Anderson has added 19.
“Our team motto is ‘Fast,’ ” Sowder said. “That doesn’t mean run and gun. We have to stay smart, cool and collected. We want to make sure we execute.”
The Lakers are also solid defensively. Junior Noah Orham has been in goal for all nine victories, posting a 7.43 goals-against average with a .546 save percentage.
“We also have a great defensive team,” Fleck said. “We have yet to allow a team to score double digits on us.
“I think last year really prepared us for this season. It showed us how important the little things are, and how hard we need to work to make sure we put ourselves in the best position to have success each game.”