During a postgame meeting that stretched well past when the opposing team, Lakeville South, had left the field, the conversation Friday night in Lakeville focused on nearly everything but the 48 minutes of lacrosse that had just played out.
No talk of the 30 shots allowed by the third-seeded Raiders, and not much of the 13-6 loss against second-seeded Lakeville South, which has ended Northfield's season each of the last four years.
No, Northfield coach Jeff Wright talked about his seniors.
"We've got 14 seniors that have been pioneers of this program," Wright said afterwards. "A lot of them have played for four or five seasons, and they've brought this team to where it's at. To go from 3-10 to 12-3, you'd be crazy to not want that and to not think that's special. I'm super proud of the leadership we have on this team, and the seniors are going to be more than missed."
Friday night, the Cougars (9-6) put forth a level of lacrosse that the Raiders (12-3) had yet to see this year. Initially, Northfield stood tall after falling behind 1-0, which was followed by freshman Spencer Klotz burying a goal off an assist from sophomore Nick Orosco with five minutes, 57 seconds left in the first quarter.
Lakeville South then tacked on a pair of goals to take a 3-1 lead after the first quarter, and continued that scoring surge to carry a 5-1 advantage into halftime.
The teams traded goals to start the third, with Northfield senior Gabe Baggot sniping his shot from a tight angle to bring the Raiders within 5-2 just 1:50 into the second half. Lakeville South stretched the lead back to 6-2, and then Nick Orosco following that up less than a minute later with a goal to cut the deficit to 6-3 off an assist from Klotz.
That was as close Northfield would get, though, as Lakeville South senior Nick Scheer scored his fifth goal of the game with 5:40 left in the third to put the Lakeville South lead at 7-3.
The issue started in the face-off circle, Wright said, where Cougar senior Peter Carlson, who was named all-state last year, won all but one face-off (because of a procedural penalty) to tilt the possession battle heavily in favor of Lakeville South.
"When you can't win a face-off, that's going to kill you," Wright said. "Their face-off guy is a guy I used to coach in eighth grade, and he's just a phenomenal kid, but at the X he's lights out."
That lopsided possession battle meant a lot of work for Northfield junior goalie Christoph Tisdale, who made a season-high 17 saves in the loss.
"He played lights-out lacrosse tonight, and this kid, he's one of the most fierce competitors I've ever coached in 16 years," Wright said. "To have him coming back next season, I know that I can rally at least with him to say, 'Let's set the tone right now, let's get after it this summer and in our offseason and get after it.'"
While Wright will have the luxury of Tisdale, who's started every game of the last two seasons for the Raiders, he'll be without those 14 seniors who helped Northfield go from near the bottom of the Big 9 Conference last year to an undefeated conference campaign this season.
In addition to the three senior captains, Logan Bornick, Dan Nelson and Dawson Foster, that group includes Isaac Orosco, Trevor Shimota, Mason Zick, Tyler Cemenski, Brian O'Meara, Zach Anderson, Zach Marvin, Devon Jirik and Baggot.
Before the season, the entirety of the Raiders met and each came up with one word they wanted to dictate the upcoming season.
During that postgame meeting, Bornick brought his up, "unforgettable," and said his teammates more than cleared the bar for his word.
"He just talked about how proud he is of this team and what he's seen over his career here and that he's going to hold his head high," Wright said. "In 30 years he's going to remember this team for the way we battled and the way we came together."