Class 1A Battle as #1 Benjamin Takes Down #9 King’s Academy 14-8 Despite Null’s 24 Saves!

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photos by Paul Kabalin

LHP’s Adam Sawicki started at Lehigh, SA’s Bernie Susskind (thanks to Seth Austin for pointing out it’s Susskind) started at Dartmouth, STA’s Mikey Adler started at St. Joseph’s and Duke, STA’s Chris Selva started at Hofstra and PV’s Wyatt Schupler starts at Army . . . I probably missed a few.  All these goalies played high end goaltending at Florida high schools and on to Division 1 NCAA programs.

 

 

None of them played a game in high school like Tommy Null did last night for King’s Academy, and that was not a solitary opinion as you’ll see in the tweet below.  I’ve asked for a highlight reel of all 24 saves for the Poll article and will post it there.  Almost none of those saves were easy either . . . close in, wing step downs and up top, hands-free lasers.  Benjamin’s offense was sharp in the first half, getting off 32 shots and it could have gotten ugly early but Noll gave them time to recover and close in the second half but the margin never narrowed enough to look like King’s could pull it all the way back.  Still, an achievement that can’t be ignored.

 

 

Benjamin won 75% of the faceoffs but did show some sloppiness in the 2nd half that also let King’s hang around.  Benjamin’s ride gave King’s fits in the first half and that led to too many opportunities.  This was a coming out party for me for Brady Quinn, who was unstoppable while dodging in the first half, as he dropped 4 goals in the first half and then showed versatility with finding cutters in the 2nd half.  You know the Bucs will get production from Trevor Natalie and Luke Pisani and they came through with 5G/2A combined, but adding a third option in Quinn will make the team hard to combat in Class 1A this year. 

 

 

The interesting thing potentially this year is that, like in years past, when getting out of the District was the huge step with Jupiter, their road to the Final Four might actually be easier than getting out of District.  St. Edward’s might well end up the toughest game on the path to the Final Four because Bishop Moore is looking down this year and Lake Highland is still an unknown quantity right now, and the lacrosse brackets match District 5 through District 8 while 9-12 will not have to cross over as Cardinal Mooney did to Jupiter in 2018 and 2019.

 

 

King’s Academy, meanwhile, is in the same District as Oxbridge, Saint Andrew’s and SJP II and right now ALL FOUR of those are ranked in Class 1A by me . . . it doesn’t take a genius to figure which District semifinal I’ll be at.  We already have seen Oxbridge and SA go to a one-goal game and the rest are coming up as long as Contact Tracing goes silent, which has not been the case so far in Palm Beach County.  Given that we will be using MaxPreps/FHSAA/Hybrid/Whatever Power Rankings to set the District playoff seedings the need to not even play all the games might well come into play as an unintended consequence.

 

 

One thing that will help King’s later in the year is that the transition on offense from last year’s juggernaut (remember that King’s was ranked #2 in 1A when the season ended last year) is now fully underway and Patrick Law is a player to get to know, as he took everything a stout Benjamin defense threw at him and he responded with 3 goals, and Blake Hernandez also stepped up with 3 of his own.

And then there is Jacob Webb.  If you don’t get the significance of this photo, go back to this LINK

 

 

This sport always produces great stories.  After the horrible last 13 months for our lacrosse community we needed one like this.

Benjamin jumped out early in the first, scoring three times in 4 minutes before King’s got a full possession.  Pisani found Peter Cenci all alone on the left crease from top right at 10:53 and then Quinn scored twice in 50 seconds as he took advantage of the defender overcommitting on the first (that’s the generous term for slipping, which was a constant problem all night long) and curling from behind left for the short side tally for the second.  Law got one back at 4:28 for 3-1, as he worked up top, stepped right and fired from 12 yards.  At 3:08, the Bucs Dominick DeVito dodged to the middle from left GLE and hit the top right for 4-1 after one.

Quinn , Pisani, Natalie and Quinn again ran off four goals in the 2nd to make it 8-1 as they all took advantage of their speed to score unassisted goals and was only answered by Law’s second at 1:51 to make it 8-2 at the half.

 

 

King’s closed the gap with a 4-2 3rd quarter, as they ran off three goals in the last 3 minutes of the quarter.  Reed Gahan first pushed it to 9-2 at 10:21 off the DeVito feed, like it was feeding the post in basketball, and he spun left to finish.  King’s answered on EMO as they wheeled passes left, with Brad Wharton finishing off the Ray Ray Colaiacovo feed at 6:06.  Pisani found Natalie up top from left wing for the step down at 3:33 for 10-3 but then Hernandez potted the natural hat trick, with three stylistically different plays.  The first saw him circumnavigate the lacrosse offensive half, finishing on the left wing, the second saw him spot up on the wing and take Webb’s skip pass for the EMO tally and the third saw him scoop a loose ball in front for the buzzer beater to end the quarter.

Benjamin took back momentum with two early goals to push it back to a 6-goal margin.  Oliver DeFerarra finished the 4 on 3 break as Quinn found him alone on the low left and Pisani nailed the top left corner off the right alley dodge.  Colaiacovo answered at 6:33 on a curl from behind right and King’s last gasp saw Law get his third off Webb’s behind right feed on EMO with 4:27 to go but Cenci and Natalie finished the game off Quinn feeds, with both cutting left wing for the feeds and scores to make it 14-8.

A beautiful night for lacrosse at a game thrown together a few days before (this is going on ALL OVER right now, as Covid issues and opt outs have created some interesting schedule conundrums) between two teams that played a heck of a game last year.

Step by step, we are getting out lacrosse lives back.

Thanks to both coaches for talking to me before and after the game.

And thank you Tommy for putting on a performance that none of us will forget.

 

 

Team Statistics

Faceoffs: Benjamin 18-6

Shots: Benjamin 54-27

Shots on Goal:  Benjamin 38-19

Turnovers:  20 each

Penalties:  King’s 9-6

Individual Statistics

Benjamin

Brady Quinn 4G/3A

Trevor Natalie 3G

Luke Pisani 2G/2A

Peter Cenci 2G

Dominick DeVito 1G/1A

Oliver DeFerarra and Reed Gahan with 1G each

Brock Roe and Jareth Buccilli combined for 11 saves

King’s Academy

Patrick Law and Blake Hernandez with 3G each

Ray Ray Colaiacovo with 1G/1A

Brad Wharton 1G

Jacob Webb 2A

Tommy Null with 24 saves