photos by Paul Kabalin
Let’s get the two negatives out of the way . . .
The small crowd allowed in because the Miami Archdiocese didn’t pay attention to the CDC’s updated guidelines
The FHSAA bypassed plenty of highly rated referees in the area that had the trust and respect of both teams and you not only didn’t assign them for this game but you also are sidelining them this weekend.
This is still the most experienced, deepest region in the state and saving a few bucks on travel for the Final Four while paying it out for the Regional Final doesn’t make much sense when you had a game like this on the line. The reason given for not including this region’s referees was COST OF TRAVEL. But why then bring in an out-of-area crew for this game? And why assign Jacksonville referees in Kissimmee when the distance from Jupiter to Kissimmee is LESS than Jacksonville to Kissimmee? I think the FHSAA needs to understand a) Quality trumps a small cost saving, especially when this has traditionally been a profitable weekend and b) when you give a reason FACT-CHECK it first.
Okay, back to the GREAT GAME that was played.
Back on March 10th I witnessed the first game they played and it was a similarly great STA 12-11 win over Jupiter at Jupiter. The second leg of the home and home was scheduled for April but Covid interfered and this became the rematch. Both were coming off easy first round wins and this was must-see if you are a fan of the sport.
I mentioned on my 2A Boys preview on YouTube that I felt the Jupiter coaching staff held some things back and while I still think the first game was strategically simplified some, I also understand from the interview after Friday’s game Jupiter HC Nick O’Hara’s point about two long poles not having much experience coming into the season and I can certainly see now that you need to let them gain their game experience before you give them the more sophisticated package.
In that first game STA’s offense was more able to play a patient game and found some opportunities to alley dodge and feed, as well as not face as much sliding as I thought they would, particularly in the first half. The 12 goals was a target that the STA coaching staff would have been happy with going into it. The faceoffs were dominated by Jared Chenoy in that game and a big thing to watch going into this one was how to partly neutralize him, not so much at winning the faceoff but in keeping him from making those wins into fast breaks and early shots. Jupiter’s offense in the first game was also effective and since both coaches were assuming a second game there was no reason to bring out everything in the arsenal.
The interesting thing about this game to me is that each team pretty much accomplished what they went into the game to do. Jupiter did find a way to neutralize Jared Chenoy when it came to transition and in the second half Jupiter’s Michael Smith actually went 50% and that was probably a swing of 2 possessions in the one-goal game. STA’s offense got a lot more shots off, but their on-goal percentage was very telling. I have it at only 20 shots on goal versus 40 attempts, while Jupiter hit the cage on 14 of 23 attempts.
Jupiter’s Trace Hogan put his stamp on this game, as STA’s defense was geared towards taking away the inside looks Jupiter does so well and that defense managed to hold the scoring tandem of Max Sanderson and Tyler Douglass to a combined 1G/1A, but it was a credit to the scoring options the Jupiter offense possesses that they could adapt to more of a spacing approach. STA’s offense was also spread around and one telling statistic in this one was that 10 of the 15 total goals were assisted, as both teams had to grind away for open looks.
This was an extraordinary game on turnovers until the second half of the fourth quarter. Going into the fourth, Jupiter had 5 turnovers and STA 4 . . . NINE combined in a regional final for three quarters is remarkable ball protection; it was even more so with the long poles these two schools can put on the field. The fourth showed 7 between them and part of that was Jupiter trying to run clock without a lot of success until the last possession.
The game itself was only tied twice, once at 0-0 and later at 1-1. STA had to climb the mountain after falling behind 4-1 after the first. But every time they pulled within one, after a two-goal rally, Jupiter would answer with two of their own. The last STA rally in the fourth fell a goal short due to a combination of missing the net and hitting the metal. I believe there were 5 posts for STA in the game and the ones that were on goal were covered by Jupiter goalie Aiden Vincent, who was extremely tough inside. STA goalie Wade Lamon made less saves but many were quality looks when another Jupiter goal might have opened the floodgates.
All in all, an FHSAA title game worthy Friday night; both teams did their school proud. I’m sure the STA kids will look at the film and realize they were right there but ‘shot’ themselves in the foot with their accuracy but high school sports are so much fun because they are still growing as players and these games are part of the learning process. For the seniors, good luck in the future! For the juniors and underclassmen I suspect that there will be some extra shooting practice this summer.
And now we are all off to Orlando from down here . . . AH-Delray and STA on the Girls’ side, Jupiter and St. Andrew’s on the Boys’.
Another thanks to the kids, coaches, etc., who gave us another remarkable memory of what makes this Region so great to watch!
The Warriors grabbed the 1-0 lead at 9:47 as Hogan found Jack Farris top left from the right wing for the left hand low left shot and STA responded at 7:55 with Trace McDonald’s right alley dodge, finishing with the right hand bounce shot. 23 seconds later Jupiter took the 2-1 lead as Hogan split dodged the middle and found a cutting Jackson Bashaw coming out from behind and Bashaw finished on the right crease all alone. Hogan then took it himself, split dodging the right alley and hitting the top short side for 3-1 at 6:43. He then finished the quarter as he found Bashaw from top left with a skip pass to low right for the left hand high short side shot to make it 4-1 after one.
Back and forth for the first half of the second quarter as the goalies stepped up and finally it was STA’s McDonald feeding Michael Milanes on low left from behind for the left hand shot to the top right corner at 5:50. Chenoy then chipped in at 3:24 to cut it to one with a dodge from up top to the right and finishing with a perfect top left bounce shot for 4-3. Just 16 seconds later it was Jupiter taking advantage of a loose ball after the faceoff, as Sanderson won the groundball and found Max Silver behind the defense for the clean breakaway and 5-3. Jupiter then put a dagger on the board with 52 seconds left as Bashaw returned the favor to Hogan, finding him from behind for the step down on the right wing to the short side to make it 6-3 at the half.
Jupiter took a late penalty before the half and STA converted the possession at 11:27 on EMO, with Robert Gazzano feeding Nico Cash up top from left wing for the step down that found the low left for 6-4. Long pole Sam Whitaker got the Raiders within one with 4:41 to go as he took off down the field after winning the groundball, weaving towards the right alley and finishing low, drawing the penalty on top. Jupiter was able to kill that penalty off (it was a two-man advantage after another follow-on call) and responded twice within 23 seconds to boost the lead back to 3. First, Silver finished off the Farris pass on the left wing low feed and then Tyler Douglass went down the left alley after splitting two defenders near midfield and his left hand rip caught the low left for 8-3 after three. Killing off a two-man advantage and responding with two goals was the key moment of the game for them.
Cash cut it back to two early in the fourth, at 10:32, as McDonald found him on right wing from low right, and his step down found the mid left of the cage. Jacob Urbano found Giovanni Villasana from right wing up top for the right hand low shot to bring it back to the one-goal margin at 5:06, setting up the frenetic ending but Jupiter’s defense held stout and they were able to run out much of the last minute, earning their Final Four berth.
Hats off to both teams!
Here’s Jupiter HC Nick O’ Hara after the game:
Faceoffs: STA 11-5
Shots: STA 40-23
Shots on Goal: STA 20-14
Turnovers: Jupiter 9-7
Penalties: Jupiter 6-1
Trace Hogan 2G/3A
Jackson Bashaw 2G/1A
Max Silver 2G
Jack Farris 1G/1A
Tyler Douglass 1G
Max Sanderson 1A
Aiden Vincent with 13 saves (I do not count posts unless the goalie got a piece of the shot)
Nico Cash 2G
Trace McDonald 1G/2A
Michael Milanes, Jared Chenoy, Sam Whitaker and Giovanni Villasana with 1G each
Robert Gazzano and Jacob Urbano with 1A each
Wade Lamon with 6 saves
Thanks to Coach O’Hara and Coach Crowley for talking to me before and after the game