East Metro boys lacrosse player of the year: Mahtomedi’s Levi Lemke

Levi Lemke will tell you he spent his first three varsity seasons, eighth grade to his sophomore year, in a “slump.” That makes Mahtomedi coach Pete Moosbrugger laugh.

In three seasons, Lemke, then a midfielder, tallied 16 goals and 10 assists. Not up to the standards he’d set for himself growing up with the sport, but exactly where the Zephyrs wanted him to be. It’s almost what you’d expect out of an underclassman in a successful program.

“But highly competitive athletes, they want to be the best. And when they’re not the best, then there is something wrong,” Moosbrugger said. “You get those rare kids that have that kind of drive, where it irks them to their core that they’re not the best or they’re not one of the top people on the team.”

It drove Lemke to work on everything. Even after a strong state tournament his sophomore season propelled Lemke into a strong summer, and an offer from Boston University, Lemke was determined to have a stellar junior season. He worked on his body and his skillset. The hours were going to pay off.

Then the season was canceled by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Mentally, that was a battle right there to keep on pressing and keep on working for another year,” he said.

Back to the lab he went. Lemke’s dad helped him set up a gym in his garage. He continued to work on his game. And finally, as a senior this spring — now in the attack — Lemke finally got to prove exactly what he could do at this level.

With 60 goals and 20 assists while leading the Zephyrs to a Section final appearance, where they fell to Stillwater, Lemke is the 2021 Pioneer Press East Metro boys lacrosse Player of the Year.

“(He has) that kind of inner drive that if he’s not the best, he’s going to do whatever it takes to be the best. So, the outcome this year, I’m not surprised,” Moosbrugger said. “Did I think he was going to score that many goals? I don’t know. I think he’s got the hardest shot in all of the state, and I don’t think there is any team out here that wouldn’t want Levi Lemke on their team.”

That shot stood out to Moosbrugger, dating back to the start of the season. It was impressive before, but it hit “another level” this year. It was an area of focus for Lemke during the offseason, as was the 15 pounds of muscle he added in the weight room.

Lemke was told prior to his junior season that, while he’ll play midfield at BU, he’d be needed at attack for the Zephyrs. He showed up on Day 1 this season both with the techniques and the necessary power to play it to perfection.

Lemke tallied six goals and two assists in the team’s season-opening victory over Eastview.

“Quarantine really made me work. I had nothing better to do,” he said. “But I’d say the biggest change is my confidence in myself and my mental game. I’d say my sophomore year, I didn’t really believe in myself. This senior year, I came out and I believed in myself, and that’s kind of how I got to where I am.”

Lemke is proud of how he overcame that supposed “slump” and worked his way through things to become one of the state’s premier scorers this spring.

“Getting through that mental block and getting to finally go out and show that I’m a good player, that’s what I’m most proud about,” he said.

Now the process will likely start all over again in college. Lemke may be as prepared for the climb as any freshman can be.

“It’s going to be a whole other step, but he has the foundations and desire to be great, and that will only help him get there,” Moosbrugger said.

FINALISTS

  • Isaac Albers, senior defender, Stillwater: Albers helped spearhead one of the stingiest defenses in the area while propelling the Ponies to state.
  • Bjorn Anderson, senior midfielder, Roseville: Tallied 36 goals and 23 assists to pace the Raiders’ scoring.
  • E.J. Charpentier, senior attack, Mahtomedi: The other half of the Zephyrs’ potent one-two punch, Charpentier tallied 47 goals and 30 assists.
  • Tyler Kloecki, junior faceoff specialist, Farmington: Dominated faceoffs for the Tigers, winning 77 percent of draws.
  • Baker Reding, senior midfielder, St. Thomas Academy: Holy Cross commit is a two-way standout, with 53 goals and 16 assists while leading the Cadets to state.

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