East Metro Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year: Lakeville South’s Tori Tschida

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Lakeville South coach Joel Tornell noted Cougars standout midfielder Tori Tschida has a “team-first mentality,” and always has. He got a little emotional when discussing those traits of the player he has worked with for the past decade.

If you need further convincing of that, just listen to the senior speak.

Tornell describes Tschida as the hardest worker. What drives Tschida to be that?

Tori Tschida of Lakeville South High School is one of forty-nine young women, representing St. Paul city and suburban public and private high schools, recently selected to receive the St. Paul Area Athena Award for outstanding achievement in athletics for the 2023-2024 school year. This year’s outstanding high school women student-athletes will be privately honored at the 30th Annual St. Paul Area Athena Awards ceremony on Wednesday, April 17, 2024 at St. Paul RiverCentre. (Courtesy of St. Paul Area Athena Awards)

“My hard work comes from (how) I want to do good for my teammates and be there for them,” Tschida said.

Tschida prefers assists over goals. Her favorite assists have nothing to do with the level of flash on her pass.

“I feel like when the younger classmen get a chance, their first goals really excite me,” she said. “Probably one of those (would be my favorite).”

Tschida loves to pass. Maybe even a little too much at times. It was an easy trap to fall into in previous years, given Lakeville South’s bevy of hyper-skilled scorers.

“I was a lot more timid when I was younger. I wouldn’t want to go in and score,” Tschida said. “Usually, I was passing a lot more. But I’ve kind of had to come into that role and be more of a scoring threat.”

The senior said that progression is a product of her coaching.

“(Tornell is) a lot more like, ‘No, you have to go take it now. You’ve passed enough,” Tschida said with a laugh. “I think our team this year, we’re very well rounded, so anyone on our offense can score. It’s just like when the opportunity comes, it’s easier to take.”

Tschida has seemingly found the perfect balance this year in her game to help guide the undefeated Cougars, who are the top seed in this week’s state tournament. They’ll take on Cretin-Derham Hall in the state quarterfinals at 5 p.m. Tuesday at Chaska High School.

The 2024 East Metro Player of the Year has 37 goals, 27 assists, 30 ground balls and 54 draw controls. Essentially, the Temple University commit dominates every facet on the field.

Tornell said Tschida has developed a “killer instinct.” It’s most prominent in the more competitive games against top-tier competition. Tschida still loves to pass, but she recognizes when the Cougars need a goal and isn’t afraid to go get it.

“There are times where she takes over, and you can see her, it changes her whole demeanor,” Tornell said. “There’s just that next level that she has that she can go to at times. It’s just been huge for us, because not only is it good for her scoring a goal or making a great play or whatever, but it also elevates everybody else because they see her pushing herself to that next level.”

And she aims to get her teammates to do the same. Tschida not only cheers for her younger teammates, but she pushes them to improve. Anything to help those behind her succeed. Tornell noted Tschida coached a 10-and-under team last summer, and will coach 12-and-under kids this year.

“To see the Player of the Year at a U10 practice is huge. She’s just been like that. She wants to help the next generation,” Tornell said. “She celebrates the seventh- and eighth-graders who score goals, she’s cheering for JV players during JV games. She’s just truly a special player.”

That’s evident on the draws, which Tornell believes Tschida has won roughly 80 percent of this season – an unheard of number. He’ll go to direct Tschida on how to approach a draw, and she’s already on it.

Tornell noted he mostly manages the Cougars, because they can essentially coach themselves. That’s a mark of great teams and starts with players like Tschida, who’s an avid student of the game.

But ask Tschida about her dominance in the draw circle, and the coach suggested the senior would credit her teammates for chasing the loose balls down. It’s what she does and who she is. She in no way seeks out attention or awards.

But she does want to win – particularly after how last season ended, with the Cougars falling by one to Benilde-St. Margaret’s in a semifinal stunner. Tschida called that loss “devastating.” All season, she has preached the importance to her teammates of not skipping any day or step, and approaching every game with confidence, but not cockiness.

“We know we’re supposed to be here, and we can do it,” Tschida said of winning state, “but it’s not just going to be handed to us.”

They’ll have to earn it, something Tschida knows all about.

“She has done that her whole career, she has done that at home. She’s the wall-ball leader of the world. She made herself the player that she is through drive and determination,” Tornell said. “She hustles to every ground ball, she picks up balls at the end of practice, she carries the ball bag, she drags nets. Whatever needs to be done, Tori is the first in line to get it done.”


Ella Berg, senior midfielder, Gentry Academy: Louisville commit tallied a jarring 130 points – 65 goals and 65 assists.

Katie Grubbs, senior midfielder, Lakeville South: Grubbs can get it done offensively but is perhaps best on the defensive end, where she forced 39 turnovers this season.

Kate Hooley, senior midfielder, Woodbury: Massachusetts-Lowell commit will likely go down as the best player in Royals history. Has a program-record 239 points, including 175 goals.

Sivanna O’Brien, senior midfielder, Lakeville South: Owner of some of the prettiest goals in the state, O’Brien has 38 goals, 19 assists and 88 draw controls this season.

Sofia Watts, senior midfielder, Cretin-Derham Hall: Colorado at Colorado Springs commit has 100 points – 77 goals and 23 assists this season – for the state-bound Raiders. Can finish with both hands and has improved defensively.




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