Lakeville North junior lacrosse standout Quinn Power can't help himself. Whenever he walks past the sticks he keeps in his basement, it's go time.
"My mom always laughs because she can hear from the other room," said Power, the Panthers' faceoff specialist. "I'll just grab a stick and start taking reps by myself, just clamping down on the ball and improving my speed and technique. I have an app on my phone that has a whistle timer. I find it fun and it's just how you get better."
Power's considerable efforts at the faceoff X helped Lakeville North qualify for the state tournament. The skills he honed through relentless work make him the Star Tribune Metro Player of the Year.
For a position so critical to establishing possession, the faceoff/get off (or FOGO) specialist is a bit underappreciated in Power's mind.
"Teams can still be great with just a decent FOGO, but a great FOGO can allow you to score and get the ball back right away," Power said. "That can be a total game-changer. I think you're not necessarily doomed without a great FOGO, but if you have one, it can just really elevate your whole game."
Power gives Lakeville North the state's best. His abilities shined in the Panthers' comeback victory in the state tournament semifinals. North drew even with Cretin-Derham Hall with 4:04 to go in the fourth quarter, and Power took over at the faceoff X. By repeatedly winning the ball back, Power ensured possession for his team while preventing the Raiders from mounting their own offensive charge.
North's 7-5 victory moved the No. 2 seed Panthers into Thursday's semifinals.
Power's emergence as an elite faceoff man is rooted in hockey. He played center, where he developed anticipation and quick hands. Around the fourth grade, he began playing lacrosse.
Things got serious when Power was a freshman. He realized if he really focused on specializing at the FOGO position, he would have a chance at playing varsity.
He succeeded, which is how he found himself going against Farmington's elite FOGO Tyler Kloeckl, who went on to play in college. They built a friendship that extended beyond game days.
"I think I shocked him, honestly, that as a freshman I was able to compete," Power said. "He texted me after that game and said, 'Great game. I'd love to get reps with you sometime.' I thought that was sweet because as a FOGO, the best way to get better is to find someone that you can get reps with. He was a really great mentor for me."
Power and Kloeckl worked out on the turf in Kloeckl's garage. The up-close-and-personal battles sometimes boiled over.
"We are actually great buddies," Power said. "But there were some days we would want to punch each other in the nose."
It was business, not personal. Power now extends invitations to teammates to stay sharp.
"I'll text my buddies and ask, 'Hey, you guys want to go out and take some faceoffs today?' " Power said. "I think that's just what makes you great is just doing it over and over again, so that way it's just muscle memory and your technique keeps improving."