If you didn’t know before, you sure do now: those Raptors are rolling! On Thursday, the Kenosha Raptors handled the league-leading Oconomowoc Raccoons, 9-5. This win marks the Raptors’ fourth straight victory, and has propelled them to the top of the Classic 8 - White division.
If I was feeling particularly lazy, I could have easily copy-and-pasted my exact words from my last write-up and placed them here: the Men of Kenosha were again paced by the senior and Air Force Academy-inductee Ashton Valentine, who managed to accrue 5 goals in the contest, continuing his rampage through the Classic 8. Valentine now has 22 goals in 5 games, placing him into a tie for the second-most goals in Wisconsin High School Lacrosse. Impressive play from the rock-solid senior, who shows little signs of stopping. Junior Connor Bienlich would not be left out, slotting three goals past the Raccoon defense before even the first half had elapsed. His inspired play in the early goings of the contest set the tone for a disciplined and lethal Raptors offensive unit.
At the face-off dot, draw-man Kane Palmer continues to excellent form, commanding ground balls and earning important possessions for this Raptors team. Without him, the Raptors would be looking for answers, however, ‘Kaner’ always seems to have them. His herculean output has been essential for this extended Raptors win streak.
Defensively, Edgewood-signee Andrew Stich was again the lynchpin of a formidable and cohesive Raptor defensive collective, conducting and choreographing another excellent defensive outing. Although he is headed to Madison next year, I can’t help but to enviously imagine him scooping up ground balls and causing turnovers in a Carthage Firebirds’ jersey. Alas. The Raptors have allowed more than 6 goals to only one offense the entire 2021 season, due in large part to the efforts of defensive quarterback Stich, as well as crease-man Dylan Connell, Payton Metzger, and John Bogdala, who have each grown into their role and become nearly impenetrable as an ensemble. Defense would be futile, however, without the assistance of the two spark-plugs in the midfield, Oliver Hulbert and Owen Kams, who have each exceeded expectations and become crucial parts of the transition game. And of course, the defense efforts would be fruitless without the ever-present and ever-proficient performances of next-level netminder Patrick Stalman, who continues to rise to every challenge placed in front of him, and then some. Stalman is the gas to the Raptors’ fire, and the Men of Kenosha will go as far as he takes them.
With this victory the Raptors have earned a seat at the very top of the Classic 8 - White division with a record of 4-1. The Gentlemen prepare for a tough test on the horizon, however, as the Cedarburg Bulldogs travel to Westosha Central to take on the Raptors on Friday, May 14th, in what has become a clash between the top-two teams in the Classic 8 - White, with the Raptors hunting for revenge for their early loss to the Bulldogs.