It’s been a full month since Saint Andrew’s played a ranked opponent and on Friday night they showed they weren’t missing a beat. Due to their cancellations from Covid, I did not get to see them play a competitive game outside of St. Thomas this season and partly that was because outside of that game the only close game was the opening game against this same Thunderwolve team.
Don’t be fooled by the scores on the schedule, the way this team plays you can only compete if you can hold their offense in check.
Another reason to curse Covid, and the 2 classes, is that the two best matchups stylistically this year would be SA vs Jupiter and SA vs PV, regardless of who won a District. The SA-Jupiter game was cancelled and their offense, being a true 6-man unit, would have provided the best challenge to a Saint Andrew’s defense that swallows up opposing offenses.
Damn, what could have been.
Oxbridge came into the game shorthanded on offense after Mikey Hayes went down in the semifinal and early in this game it was OA’s star defender George Wandoff who was dinged up early and late. They wouldn’t have made the final result different but it would have helped. SA’s defense is mobile, smart and pretty nasty too when they can lay in a shot. The best answer to a team willing to take a penalty is being able to make them pay on Man Down, but in the first half, with penalties 5-1 on SA, SA killed all of them AND scored a shorthanded goal as they took the 5-2 lead at the half.
Oxbridge was able to hang around into midway through the 3rd quarter but over time they wore down. I want to give a shout out to Oxbridge FOGO Adam Stowell, who won 13 of 17, even while having to extricate himself at times from a closing forest around him. He reminded me a lot of Hobart’s Bobby Datillo from about 8 years ago, and before you say who, Bobby was a 3rd team All American as a senior for the Statesmen. Stowell was quick on the draw, fearless and one of those kids who is sneaky fast in space. I look forward to watching you next year.
After the game, during the interview with Coach Seaman, I asked about his collection of long poles and he said he had 5 top poles but the Top 3 kids are special. Harvard-bound Sean Jordan is as good as we have down here (and according to his coach, pretty much anywhere) and he produced 2 goals, one on transition and one on EMO. Avoid him and you have UMass commit Corey Frydman. Plus Timmy Martin could play at a D1 program but is going the Club route instead. It’s a trio that has grown together, backed by a top goalie in Gunnar Schwarz, that holds the key to finding a way to beat the Scots.
Which leads to how difficult it is to prepare for this team . . .
Of the 10 goals you had SEVEN goal scorers and 6 kids with assists, as 9 players hit the scoresheet. How do you defend this many options? St. Thomas found a way but they are very deep on defense too. Holding the ball on offense means you are tempting the strength of the SA team and Oxbridge turned it over more than they usually do. Another thing that happens against this defense is that they force you to make quicker decisions on passing and Oxbridge had some opportunities for open looks at goal, but the pass was not on target; not necessarily a direct turnover but in a place where the receiver couldn’t smoothly transition to a shooting motion and that might have well cost a couple of goals that way as the defense had time to rotate into the shooting lane.
As written before here, little things add up in this sport.
Saint Andrew’s has an interesting path to their first state title since 2012, with Pine Crest, the Belen-Gulliver winner and then a likely Tampa Jesuit and Oak Hall/St. Edward’s winner in the finals. No Benjamin, no St. Thomas, no Jupiter and no Lake Mary/Plant/Creekside, etc.
A note to the FHSAA: how about sanctioning a 1A vs. 2A Game of Champions doubleheader with a Wounded Warrior charity fundraiser for the Boys and a Breast Cancer fundraiser for the Girls? How much fun would that be to play on the field? This isn’t Football with 8A playing 3A, this is something other states do already.
I call on the Lacrosse Advisory Panels to make contact with Gainesville on that one.
Jordan opened the scoring at 9:37 for the Scots as he picked up a ball off a turnover, went down the left wing and one face dodge later bounced a shot to the top left corner for 1-0. Oxbridge tied it at 1 at 8:23 as Patrick Cerasuolo (3G) used a spin move up top and his right hand found the low left corner. Less than a minute later it was SA’s motion offense that gave them back the lead as Will Adams found Jo Jo Pores cutting into the middle from right wing and Pores found the bottom left corner for 2-1. With 2:55 left it was Pores again, as he finished off the fast break pass from Kurt Schwarz, hitting the low right corner from the left wing. Then with less than a minute in the quarter it was Moses Perry with a shorthanded dagger, going down the middle and face dodging to the crease, where he finished.
SA stretched it to 5-1 at 8:49 of the second as Perry fed Anthony Borodiak as he cut down the right alley and Borodiak whipped the shot to the top left corner. 31 seconds later Oxbridge responded as Cerasuolo cut down the middle and Beau Diamond’s left GLE feed found him for the low left finish to make it 5-2 at the half. Oxbridge goalie Jake Proctor held off good looks in the quarter to keep it within reach.
At 9:58 it was the Thunderwolves pulling within 5-3 as Diamond found Chase Shapiro up top from left wing and his step down found the net low. SA then took advantage of the EMO at 6:55 to make it 6-3 with Jordan firing from top right off the Jack Schulte feed from low right, hitting the top left of the cage. Then at 5:36 it was 6-3 with Jordan finding K. Schwarz on the low right to finish the fast break with a high, short side shot. Oxbridge finally broke through on the EMO at 3:29 with Cerasuolo taking the feed from Wandoff feed on the low left for the step down for 7-4 but the late quarter dagger hit again as K. Schwarz found Quin McGowan in the middle from right wing and McGowan finished low left for 8-4 after three.
SA finished the game off with two late goals to make it the 10-4 final, a Adams scored on the EMO and Borodiak finished the Tristan Moss feed to end the game.
Right now it will take quite the effort to challenge the Scots, will that occur in this craziest of all high school seasons?
Here’s Saint Andrew’s HC Tony Seaman after the game:
Faceoffs: Oxbridge 13-4
Shots: SA 29-26
Shots on Goal: 22-17
Turnovers: Oxbridge 18-15
Penalties: SA 8-4
Sean Jordan 2G/1A
Jo Jo Pores and Anthony Borodiak with 2G each
Kurt Schwarz 1G/2A
Will Adams and Moses Perry with 1G/1A each
Quin McGowan 1G
Jack Schulte and Tristan Moss with 1A each
Gunnar Schwarz with 13 saves
Patrick Cerasuolo 3G
Chase Shapiro 1G
Beau Diamond 2A
George Wandoff 1A
Jake Proctor with 12 saves
Thanks to Coach Seaman and Coach Ross for talking to me before and after the game