32 Hours of Lacrosse Bliss: FLN’s West Coast Swing!

And more to come, as we head to Cocoa Beach on Friday night and Jacksonville for Saturday’s Rivalry on the River!!!

Noon on Friday.

Rushing Marcela out the door for our first road trip of the year . . . and one of our first weekends out for the last 15 months . . .

Onto the Sawgrass and through Alligator Alley.  Anyone else think that road needs some maintenance?  At least there’s a cell tower out there now so calls don’t get dropped.

Up I-75 to Exit 205, where her step-sister has a business; we will be staying with them that night.

I dropped her off and noticed with great relief that the office was only about 7 miles from my destination at Cardinal Mooney, as they were set to host their local rival Riverview-Sarasota that night at 7:30pm.

Even managed to drive by Riverview HS on the way.  Really didn’t realize how close the two schools are . . . basically Jupiter to Benjamin distance.

Got to Mooney a little early and got a chance to catch up with a number of parents from both schools.  Spent some time with Mooney HC Derek Wagner, who is always fun to chat with and still sports the best Dan Haggerty look around.

Both these schools had their share of heartache last year.  Riverview’s Saxton Dunlap tragically passed from Leukemia in November and CM’s Mike Bavaro was in a catastrophic accident.  CM ran a uniform retirement ceremony for Mike yesterday during their game with Jesuit of Tampa.

Before the game I finally got to meet Pete DeLisser, the HC of Riverview.  A lot of fun to talk to as we found out we grew up in adjoining towns (Merrick and Freeport) on Long Island, although I was puzzled by his answer on Rangers vs Islanders since no one else has ever equivocated on that one based on who was playing later.  That’s usually up there with OSU-Michigan and Barcelona-Real Madrid.  But he did fondly remember the OBI, so there’s that.  His pregame drill of kids passing diagonally across each other’s lines and passing lanes simultaneously should be incorporated by everyone; it really built focus.

Last year CM spanked them pretty good and Riverview was coming off a 10-3 loss to Canterbury with a short roster so you’d expect an intense game and that was what we saw.

The game was played at a breakneck pace ALL GAME LONG . . . even when it would have been more beneficial to an offense giving their defense a needed breather.  46 combined turnovers and most of them were part of the frenzied play.  That doesn’t count the likely total of about 10 times when a possession changed due to a lack of back up of the missed shot.

After the game, when I interviewed Coach Wagner I quipped that I probably enjoyed the game more than he did even in winning and he smiled and agreed.  This was one of those games where a coach leaped a year or two in their gray hair progression.  Usually when kids get hyped for a rivalry game it takes about a quarter for the game to settle in, but this one they kept the pedal to the metal the whole game.

The game was certainly entertaining and one great thing was it drew a LARGE crowd.  Having to cover the games in my area, where the schools and administrations/county decision makers make restrictions on crowd size (one high school I cover has even banned media for the school year) have made most of my games a shell of their atmospheres.  Last week’s SA-STA game would have felt very different if the crowd was as big as Friday’s.  I was thankful for that.

No one had more than a 2-goal lead all night and it did swing back and forth.  Statistically it turned out to be 2 on 2.  Christian Laureano and Patrik McGrath combined for 8G/3A for Mooney and Will Evans and Kenneth Kaiser combined for 7 goals for Riverview in a game that ended with CM winning 9-8.  Laureano scored the game winner , his fifth, with 29 seconds left, as CM rallied from 8-6 down in the 4th.  Riverview did win the faceoff battle.

Both goalies (Jacob Brown for CM and Chris Johnson for R-S) had great games and I really liked Johnson’s outlet passing when a number of passes needed to be threaded perfectly.  R-S long poll Tyler Horiuchi played a swiss army knife role, taking faceoffs, ground balls, defensive coverage . . . even a stint on Man-up too if memory serves.  And he and defense partner Kai Hudson scored major brownie points when they told me they watch Morning Coffee together . . . the transition to YouTube will happen this week so keep watching!

After the game, as this reporter braved the sudden temperature plunge . . . we were able to get an interview through shaking hands with the winning coach:

Before leaving I got together with Matt Casallia, who is both an assistant on the CM staff as well as one of the Directors of True Lacrosse.  Matt is one of the featured panelists for the We Stand Initiative that holds it’s Zoom meeting tonight.  We discussed some of the background of the Initiative as well as some thoughts about handling racism.


I was able to get back to our hosts in Osprey by 10:00 or so and after an adult beverage and a little cheese and salami . . . and a nice talk with the relatives . . . on to bed at midnight.

The next morning it was a drive over to Venice Beach and the downtown for brunch.  If you;ve never visited the downtown you will see what Old Florida was like before it became the full-fledged state we are now.  And a wonderful French Bistro called Croissant & Co., where I went off the board for a Croque Brie, which was perfect for a light breakfast.

Back on to I-75 after eating for the one hour drive to Fort Myers and the Canterbury School, who was hosting Oxbridge for a game that Draft Kings would likely have had as an Over/Under of 9.5 goals . . . and if you took the Over . . . you lost.

So why does Oxbridge drive 3 1/2 hours for a Saturday afternoon game?

Great competition

Longtime friendship

A chance for FLN to cover it

. . . well, that’s a little self-serving

But there certainly is an easy back story on this.

Oxbridge HC Stan Ross on the left and Canterbury HC Trent Carter on the right.

Rival coaches.  Both Deans of their respective student populations.

Both defenses are tough to play against.

Of course, it would be fun to ask how often they faced each other in practice in their youth . . . since they were high school teammates at Boys’ Latin.

Over the long run it’s evened out some.  Trent has NCAA championship rings while Stan got a final.  But Stan has won more games so far and has the U.S. U-19 gig too.  That’s a lot of achievement between the two and plenty of time left to add to the resumes.

And Oxbridge came away with the 5-3 win yesterday.  A pitcher’s duel . . .

Statistics were pretty revealing.  Oxbridge’s FOGO Adam Stowell went 9 for 11 but OA turned it over 6 more times than Canterbury.  Both hit the net 15 times.

And Oxbridge got a few more individual plays when they needed it to win the game.  Only 1 goal out of the combined 8 was assisted.  Only OA’s Mikey Hayes scored more than once, as he led the way with 3G/1A.

Teddy Tarone and Beau Diamond also scored for Oxbridge and Chase Thompson, Spencer Dopman and Carson Fuchs scored for Canterbury.

Both goalies (OA’s Jake Proctor with 12 saves and Canterbury’s Dylan McMillion with 10) came up big and there were times where the defenders made it easier on them by playing the hands well, limiting velocity.

One thing I should have asked Coach Ross is how they go home . . . I-75?  Across the northern part? Through Arcadia?  These two schools pretty much have the entire Everglades between them.

Here’s his interview after the game:

I also had the chance to meet Coach Carter’s father and the four of us combined for 3 Boys’ Latin grads and 2 Hobart grads . . . not too hard to figure out who was what.

After the game ended at around 3:00 it was off to a late lunch, or early dinner depending on one’s perspective with Immokalee HC Scott Rickard and his wife Jessica.  He managed to introduce us to something I have not experienced yet, and at age 62 that’s not a small thing!

A Costa Rican restaurant . . . I can’t ever remember seeing another one before.

The Mahi with the Mango chutney style sauce plus plantains and rice and there you go.  Marcela ordered the black bean soup but the Ceviche had already filled her up and the soup managed to make it’s way all the way home without spillage.

Those who read me know how much I admire what Scott has done and we took our time, stretching out the meal to something a Central American would be proud of.  Siesta length.

He’s 8-3 so far this year with some of his toughest games coming up.  It looks like he will get to 10 wins this year, which I believe would be a first for the program.

He’s one of the guys you root for no matter what.

Well, it was 30 hours into the weekend and the ride home beckoned.  Too bad it can’t be a weekly thing for me.

There are still big Mega Millions and Powerball jackpots available . . .

Buy the John Madden bus, hire a driver and hit the road all season long if that miracle happens . . .

Instead I’ll just have to settle for having fun.

At least the Islanders ran Phily into the ground when we got home . . . and the Statesmen got back into the winning column too

I was hoping to see Lynn and PBA last night, but the SSC Presidents decided to ban spectators this season.  Somehow college kids are at higher risk than high school parents . . .

Not bad though.  2 games, college wins, hockey team wins, a meal with the Rickards . . .

Even slept well last night.

And tonight is the We Stand Initiative.  Register now!