I don’t call this the BDDFIF* for nothing and last night’s regular season preview certainly did nothing to dampen the atmosphere of what is coming in mid-April. There is something completely different when these two go at it. Before the game, while talking to Benjamin Head coach Peter Cordrey, I asked him how he prepared and he gave me the normal coach-talk about studying films, etc. After the game, even before I interviewed him on Periscope, I said something simple to him: “It’s a little different live with this one than on film, isn’t it”? The look on his face told the tale.
I hope that every lacrosse fan in this state has an opportunity to watch these two teams go at it and certainly be able to watch from fairly close to the field. Benjamin’s stadium is pretty much perfect for that . . . not a slight to the Jupiter faithful but their stadium probably seats about 4,000, the press box is in another zip code and the stands are not right on top of the field like their area rival is. It’s kind of like watching UHD 4K instead of a 1984 20″ Maganvox. This game is on my annual bucket list and all lacrosse fans need to catch one of these.
The only complaint is that the field needs a little more settling, it was very slippery for both teams last night.
The intensity these two teams play with, the speed of the transitions, the attempt to strip a ball carrier every 2 seconds . . . when two teams know each other so well any little edge contributes to the result and is highly sought out. The kids have played together on club teams for years. The perfect example of this is the dual at the faceoffs between Jupiter’s Dylan Frankhouser and Benjamin’s Michael Lobosco . . . seniors and I believe training partners . . . each took turns getting the best of each other . . . Frankhouser eventually won the battle 14-10 but the next to last faceoff, with Jupiter needing possession after cutting the lead to one with 54 seconds left, found Lobosco perfectly content with a stalemate, which lasted over 20 seconds, leading to what I believe was a hold, and Benjamin possession, with the insurance goal resulting.
Another side item that is laughingly handled by both sets of parents is Benjamin’s goalie Bryce Kendrigan, who transferred from Jupiter two seasons ago. Good-natured kidding still goes on between the parents on both sides. Kendrigan came up big last night in the second half with 6 saves, many of them at key points in the flow of the game. The game also featured the unusual circumstance of the game winning goal coming from a long pole on EMO, although that wasn’t planned. Benjamin’s Zander Valentini found himself in a pile of bodies in the middle of the formation and managed to get off a low shot to pot the 11th goal with less than 2 minutes to go, and played a strong all around game, also garnering an assist.
Jupiter’s Max Sanderson stepped up strong in the first half with four of the first five goals Jupiter scored, during a 6-goal run in the first half, but as expected, no lead is ever safe in this series.
I’ll just say it one more time . . . DON’T MISS THE REMATCH** . . .
Blake Chami got Benjamin off to a strong start with the first two goals of the game. The first at 10:18, finishing off a long possession by the Bucs as Trevor Natalie worked the left low area and from left GLE found Chami cutting the middle for the left hand shot and at 8:24 he went down the right alley to finish with the right hand low to the left side for 2-0. Jupiter then took over the game, scoring 6 straight goals over the next 11 minutes to bridge the periods. At 7:28 it was Sanderson working the low right and spinning right to set up the left hand to the top left corner. At 4:20 it was Devon Rasmus taking the right behind feed from Sanderson on the right wing for the step down EMO goal to the low left. The Warriors took the lead at 3:36 as Sanderson drove the right wing to the crease for the left hand finish and at 2:42 he made it 4-2, dodging from right GLE to the middle for the low shot to end the first.
Sanderson continued the run at 9:43 of the second as he scooted from right behind to the front right for the far side shot and a minute later it was Riley Linden turning on the speed down the right alley for the low left shot and Jupiter looked to be comfortably taking control at 6-2.
Not this time. 28 seconds later Jupiter was turned over on the clear near midfield and long pole Sean Dickens found AJ Levitt alone in the middle and Levitt had a clear breakaway that he finished in front for 6-3. At 6:02 it was Chase Farriss curling out from behind left up the alley for a right hand bullet to the short side and 20 seconds later Grant Bretzlaff found a loose ball near left GLE and buried it to the short side and all of a sudden we were at 6-5. Less than a minute later it was Miles Jones finding Rasmus in the middle of the defense from right wing for the low left shot and 7-5 but Chami was able to get down the right alley with 5 seconds left in the half and his low left shot sent us to halftime at 7-6.
The only two goals in the third came 33 seconds apart and gave Benjamin their first lead since early, as Levitt took advantage of his defender slipping on the left wing and he hit the top right corner at 8:57, to be followed by Colin Ryan finding a cutting Luke Pisani in front for the low shot to take us to the 4th with Benjamin now nursing the 8-7 lead.
Benjamin took the two-goal lead 53 seconds into the 4th, as Valentini went down the middle and found Natalie on the right wing for the step down left hand to the top left corner. But, of course, Jupiter rallied with two goals of their own to tie it at 9. Linden again sped down the right alley at 10:35 and Rasmus found Chris Radice on the right wing all alone as the defense missed the pick up and his step down high shot tied it at 8:07. Benjamin went back on EMO a little later and at 6:59 Erik Sorenson scored the go ahead goal in the middle after taking the top mid feed from Farriss, setting up the even more frenetic finish. Valentini contributed the goal mentioned above at 1:33 to regain the 2-goal lead but with 54 seconds left it was Jupiter’s Trevor Sousa bulldozing his way to the net down the left side to the crease for the high shot and 11-10.
But then the key faceoff ended up being awarded to Benjamin and after the timeouts on both sides Natalie was able to go down the right wing to the corner and eventually split the double team, gaining an open path to the empty net and the finish with 13 seconds to go and we ended at 12-10.
Disappointment and Exhilaration . . . but also the feeling in the stands that the main course will be tastier than the appetizer.
Benjamin is back in action on Friday, hosting Texas power Episcopal of Dallas and Jupiter will play the same Episcopal team the previous night.
Faceoffs: Jupiter 14-10
Shots: Jupiter 35-31
Shots on Goal: Jupiter 23-22
Turnovers: Jupiter 17-16
Penalties: Benjamin 6-4
Blake Chami 3G
Trevor Natalie 2G/1A
AJ Levitt 2G
Chase Farriss and Zander Valentini with 1G/1A each
Grant Bretzlaff, Erik Sorenson and Luke Pisani with 1G each
Colin Ryan and Sean Dickens with 1A each
Bryce Kendrigan with 13 saves
Max Sanderson 4G/1A
Devon Rasmus 2G/1A
Riley Linden 2G
Chris Radice and Trevor Sousa with 1G each
Miles Jones 1A
Hunter Bracci and Riley Quinn combined for 10 saves
Thanks to Coach Cordrey and Coach O’Hara for talking to me before and after the game.
(* – BDDFIF means Best Damn District Final in Florida for those who are not familiar)
(** – I lied . . . DON’T MISS THE REMATCH . . . )