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Benilde-St. Margaret's returned to the top spot in this week's Minnesota State High School Boys' Lacrosse Coaches Association rankings, news to coach Giuseppe Palermo.

He's more concerned with how Red Knights players adhere to their own considerable expectations, not what lacrosse observers think. Palermo learned to focus inward after last season, when Benilde-St. Margaret's squandered a 17-0 record in a state tournament semifinal loss to Prior Lake.

"Last year we got caught up in looking at our record and our ranking," Palermo said. "We talked a lot this season about how it's not the No. 1 team that wins, it's the team playing the best on a given day."

The F.R.O.G.S. acronym provides the program's ethos this spring. That stands for "Forward, Response, One Family, Good and Selflessness."

"Those are great things to aspire to be," Palermo said.

To that end, Benilde-St. Margaret's (11-1) has succeeded much of this season. Its lone setback, a 9-8 loss to Bloomington Jefferson on April 23, coupled with Prior Lake's winning streak, conspired to work against the Red Knights in the polls.

Edging the Lakers 8-7 on Saturday returned the team to the good graces of voting coaches.

"Prior Lake is always a battle for us, and our game with them last week was back and forth," Palermo said. "It was good to get one back against them after losing to them at state in 2023."

Yeah, about that. Palermo might play it coy with this week's No. 1 and talk in coachspeak about putting effort ahead of results. But beating Prior Lake with the postseason around the corner should provide confidence for a team with serious state championship dreams.

Key players include offensive machines and seniors Gus Bell (45 goals) and Sky Rold (37 goals), defensive stalwarts Jack Bourget, Will Conner and Riley Murphy (all seniors), promising defenders Nick Coppo, twin brothers Judah and Raphael Johnson-Nixon and Vinny Verrett — all Class of 2025. Anchoring the defense is senior goalie Axel Esco.

"They impress me every single day," Palermo said. "I just know what their aspirations are, and I want to help lead them to achieve those goals. And we haven't quite played our best yet. That's part of the quest we're on."

State rankings

By the Minnesota State High School Boys' Lacrosse Coaches Association (records through Tuesday)

1. Benilde-St. Margaret's 10-1-0; 2. Prior Lake 10-1-0; 3. Bloomington Jefferson 10-1-0; 4. Stillwater 11-1-0; 5. Eagan 9-3-0; 6. East Ridge 11-1-0; 7. Farmington 11-1-0; 8. Edina 9-3-0; 9. Wayzata 12-1-0; 10. Lakeville North 8-4-0.