HERMANTOWN — The Grand Rapids/Greenway (GRG) girls lacrosse team started out its season in great fashion as it defeated Proctor-Hermantown 9-4 in action in Hermantown recently.
“This is the first game for our girls in two years and you are never quite sure what to expect,” said GRG head coach Mark Surface. “They played as well as you could have expected them to play after that long of a layoff. They were following our system as well as we expected and they adjusted to changes that Proctor was doing.
“We did the things that we do well, moving the ball around and looking for open players. I am super excited with how they played and how they started the season.”
Surface said junior goaltender Lydia Kortekaas played well in the net for GRG as she stopped 11 of the 15 shots she faced.
“That is a very high save percentage for lacrosse,” said Surface. “She had a really good game.”
Caroline Ahcan led the Lightning with three goals while Brie Carlson had two goals and one assist. Haven Laverdure, a junior midfielder, also had two goals and an assist while Kamryn Klinefelter had a goal and an assist. Sophomore midfielder Jazzy Bischoff also had a goal.
Surface has been head coach of the team since its inception, coaching the team one year at the club level before being at the helm the last five years in high school competition.
“Since the high school league started five years ago, we have grown every year,” said Surface. “We have gone from having just enough for a varsity team my first year to having a JV and a varsity, and now we have grown to have 12U, 10U and 8U teams. Hats off to the parents and our youth organization – Grand Rapids Amateur Lacrosse – for finding the people to coach.”
Surface said 87 teams play girls lacrosse in the state of Minnesota. It is a one-class system and GRG – which plays as an independent team – participates in Section 7, which is made up of 11 teams. He said the Lightning’s schedule this year is centralized more against local teams because of the pandemic. However, with so few teams in the area, local teams means traveling to places such as Moorhead, Brainerd, Duluth and Proctor.
Surface said the section is loaded with good teams and it is tough for any team to get out of the section and into the state tournament. He feels Forest Lake should be considered to be the favorite entering the season.
“There is a lot of competition for us,” Surface explained. “It’s a four-or-five-game series just to get out of the section so it is certainly a challenge. For us being just five years old, we hope to end up somewhere in the middle of the section. Our skills have gotten better because of the youth programs so we are expecting to definitely take a step forward this year.”
Surface said one thing the GRG program stresses is playing together as a team. He said it is the goal for the athletes to work together and use each others’ strengths to make the team stronger.
“It is something that they did a great job of against Hermantown-Proctor on Friday,” the coach said.
GRG is a very young team this season with just one senior in captain Cadence Erickson, an attacker. Other experienced players include Kamryn Klinefelter, a junior attacker, junior midfielder Brie Carlson, sophomore midfielder Caroline Ahcan, sophomore defender Hannah Hostetter, and junior defender Sara Scott. A number of other younger players are vying for playing time for GRG.
“There are some younger kids that are looking for heavy playing time,” Surface said.
Coaches assisting Surface include Rob Bahr, assistant varsity, JV/varsity coach Katie Kvilvang, and Bailey Gandy is goalie coach.
“The girls work their tails off, they are very coachable and they want to compete,” Surface said. “It’s a great group to have.”
GRG had its games for this week postponed for various reasons. Its home opener will be at Dixon-Barle Field in Coleraine on Tuesday, April 26, against Hermantown-Proctor.