The more the season goes on the more an interesting trend has emerged. Many schools were geared towards winning in 2020 and when that didn’t happen due to the shut down there were teams that were left exposed for 2021 since their benches did not gain experience. Some schools were hurt by players opting out. The smaller squads have meant more wear and tear on the 2021 squads and injuries are up noticeably according to coaches I talk to.
It’s created an interesting dynamic according to a few . . . younger players leapfrogging into slots that in the past were not common. Last night, after the game, Columbus HC Cody Morrissey told me he had graduated SEVENTEEN kids from last year. AH-Plantation HC Chad Moore had SIX OPT-OUTs before the season started, off a team that was built for 2020, and had at one point started THREE 8th-graders. And this afternoon I talked to a coach in the Orland0 area and he told me they were starting a 7th-grade goalie and other 8th-graders . . . and the interesting thing about that from him was that the younger kids were BEATING OUT the older players for playing time. When I saw LHP earlier this year I saw kids getting plenty of time who were also very young.
I guess you need to choose if the glass is half-empty or half-full.
Last night’s game had talent . . . and it had inexperience. Some really great plays and some real head-scratchers. The growing pains of talent meeting opportunity meeting reality.
I can’t even say the team that made the least mistakes won the game.
But I can say that the best player on the field did win the game for his squad and that was AHP’s goalie Jake Marek. Fresh off his 14 save 6-5 win over Oxbridge, he followed that up with 15 saves in this one. 29 for 40 is pretty darn good against two solid programs.
An interesting factor in the game was AHP’s Anthony Dara, an 8th-grader who won the faceoff battle. He was asked to perform a role and got the job done.
Columbus had good looks too but it also looks like their goal scorers last nigh are also moving on to graduation so I would think it will be a similar season next year for them.
Two teams in transition. Next year will be tough but keep an eye out starting in 2023!
AHP jumped out early at 10:57 as Anders Kirkiede drove the right alley, absorbed contact and got off the right hand shot to the high, short side for 1-0. Ethan Heim made it 2-0 at 5:30 as he picked off the goalie outlet near the cage and bounced the shot home. Columbus got on the board at 4:11 as Andres Valdes found Juan Jaureguizar up top from left wing for the step down left hand to the right middle and 2-1 but less than a minute later it was Heim finding Derek Whiteside all alone on the right crease for 3-1 and with 42 seconds left it was Connor Maron circling the zone, from right wing to behind to curling left for the finish in front to make it 4-1 after one.
An early penalty in the second gave AHP the man-up and Heim found Maron in the middle from up top and Maron finished low for 5-1 at 10:34. Columbus answered that one immediately at 10:15 shorthanded (the penalty was a 2-minute un-releasable stick infraction) as Liam Coleman found Valdes all alone on the left crease and he finished low for 5-2. The teams then traded a number of possessions with sloppy play until the Explorers added a late goal from Daniel Corazon as he cut to the crease and one-timed the Juareguizar feed from right GLE to make it 5-3 at the half.
Kirkiede answered early in the 3rd for AHP on another right alley dodge, this time hitting low left for 6-3. Coleman responded at 8:14 with a step down low shot for 6-4 but AHP then went on the run that decided the game. At 5:09 it was Heim working from behind left and eventually beating his defender to goal for 7-4 and with 3 minutes left it was Maron on a lengthy run, beating his defender to the cage from the right wing and he finished left-handed to the low left side and 8-4 after 3.
Another stick infraction at the start of the 4th gave AHP the chance to extend and Whiteside snuck out from behind left, with Kirkiede finding him alone on the crease for 9-4 and at 9:00 it was Maron finding Whiteside on the fast break for the low shot. Jacob Angulo made it 10-5 late in the game as he stepped in from up top and beat Marek low to end the game at 10-5.
The game got chippy in the 4th quarter with 8 penalties handed out in the quarter . . . discipline wins games kids! If you want to play in college you will find that you’ll never get off the bench if you don’t understand that.
District looms next week. Columbus has an easy path to the 2A/D16 final where they will face the winner of West Broward and Palmetto while AHP faces Calvary Christian in 1A/D14 with the winner likely facing Pine Crest in the final.
Good luck to everyone!
Here’s AHP HC Chad Moore after the game:
Shots: Columbus 29-25
Shots on Goal: Columbus 20-19
Turnovers: AHP 23-18
Penalties: AHP 7-5
Connor Maron 3G/1A
Derek Whiteside 3G
Ethan Heim 2G/2A
Anders Kirkiede 2G/1A
Jake Marek with 15 saves
Juan Jaureguizar, Andres Valdes and Liam Coleman with 1G/1A each
Daniel Coleman and Jacob Angulo with 1G each
Joey Vilomar with 9 saves
Thanks to Coach Moore and Coach Morrisey for talking to me before and after the game.