MANKATO, Minn. (KEYC) — The Mankato boys’ lacrosse team opened up the season with a big win over New Prague on Thursday.
”Our goal is really missing last season to get that back and have fun. Winning is important, but self-improvement, learning how to play the game and respect the game, that’s our real goal,” senior Joe Burns said.
A total of 13 goals filled up the scoreboard for Mankato in game one of the season, for a team hungry to get back to competition after missing all of last year.
”I think the layoff although bad, built up a lot of excitement and caused us to work harder in the offseason. That is part of the reason we came out so hot, and I think it will help us later in the season,” Burns added.
Mankato is off to a quick start in 2021 after topping New Prague, as the program is starting to build a winning culture.
In 2019 the team went 8-4, making a substantial jump from only a couple of wins in the program’s first two years. The 2020 season looked like Mankato would be in the mix for a Big 9 Conference title, before the season was taken away by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The team lost almost 20 seniors from that group, but the pieces are still in place for Mankato to be a dangerous team in the Big 9.
”So this is really our first full team of a full complement of kids that played youth lacrosse throughout. They’re showing up a lot more skilled.,” head coach Jamie Kunst said. “The MALA coaches do an excellent job preparing them. It really allows us from day one to get into X’s and O’s.”
Offensively, Mankato is putting an emphasis on slowing the game down.
”That’s one of our big focuses in practice. In past years, one of our biggest weaknesses is we try to do things too fast, we get a lot of turnovers and get scored on fast breaks. This year, we’re going to try and control the ball more and control the game,” Burns explained.
”Our attackmen really control the pace of the game, they get to manage the fatigue level of our defense if they’re holding possession. It’s a game of possession, making sure we aren’t committing unforced errors,” Kunst added.
Mankato squares off against Owatonna Monday in the team’s second game of the season.