The Centennial Cougars took a 15-game win streak into the state lacrosse tournament Tuesday and scored the first two goals of their state opener.
However, their opponent was top-seeded Benilde-St. Margaret’s, and the Red Knights (17-0) showed why they are the lone unbeaten team in the state, holding the Cougars to just two more goals, and sending them into the consolation bracket 8-4.
That was the lowest-scoring game of the first round as the Cougars (15-2) showed gritty defense and goaltending as well.
“Our defense and goalie played phenom,” Cougar coach Jon Beach said. “To hold those guys to eight goals, with two coming from man-up, was stellar. Nate Erichsrud shut down their first- team all state, All- American attackman, and Bubba (Andreas Bramscher) was locked in at the start of the game in goal. Jordan Rodriguez and Xan Brouillet were our motor on offense.”
Centennial was averaging 14 goals per game, while BSM was allowing just 3.7 goals per game, and good defense beat good offense in this case.
BSM launched 20 shots on goal to just 10 by Centennial. They won 13 of 15 face-offs with Jack Budniewski, who’s gotten All-American honors, handling that task.
“It isn’t so much that BSM has a great defense, it's more about their possession time on offense,” Cougar coach Jon Beach said. “They won every faceoff —as expected with an All American — and we took our chances when we had the ball. I think that if we were able to go 30 percent on the faceoff, that it would have been a closer outcome.”
The Cougars were unseeded despite their 15-1 record, and, with the three unseeded teams drawing straws to see which of the top three seeds they would face, they had the worst luck of the draw.
Centennial’s Jordan Rodriguez notched the only goal of the first period. Zan Broillet made it 2-0 with a goal 37 seconds into the second period.
The Red Knights ignited at that point, firing three shots past Cougar goalie Andreas Bramsher in the next three minutes, by Jackson Leischow, Matt Dowden and Jack VanOverbeke.
Up 4-2 at halftime, BSM struck again just 1:07 into the second half with a power play goal by Dowden after a slashing penalty.
Garrett Hoch pulled the Cougars back within two at 5-3 less than two minutes later. But the Red Knights would notch the next three goals, by Dylan Rash, Dowden and Van Overbeke.
The Cougars got their final goal with 3:32 left, by Rodriguez, who had two goals and an assist. Down 8-4, they went on the power play with 2:04 left, after a roughing penalty, and fired off three close-range shots, but all either missed or were blocked.
Bramscher, a sophomore, stopped 12 of 20 shots to help keep the Cougars in the game. BSM’s Jack Keller saved six of 10.
Mahtomedi will face Centennial in the consolation bracket on Thursday, 1 p.m., at Minnetonka High School. The winner will play for fifth place on Saturday, 11 a.m., at Minnetonka.
In the other first-round games, Eden Prairie beat Lakeville North 14-10, Prior Lake topped Wayzata 12-4, and St. Thomas Academy clipped Mahtomedi 11-8.