Emotions can run pretty high for a game like this. The top 2 teams all season, playing for pride and to establish turf, gave us a game with so much to talk about after. Emotions can run pretty high . . . all over the place . . . in the stands there was too much of it too. Emotions can run pretty high . . . on the field there was enough to cause a number of conduct calls. Maybe too much talking all around yesterday. But sometimes emotions can help get you started too, and Ponte Vedra ran their fourth quarter ones to an astonishing run, digging out from the first three quarters where Oxbridge controlled pace, tempo and the potent Ponte Vedra offense.
Poise was the dominant feature of how Oxbridge won games this season, but for 12 minutes yesterday that went out the window and it cost them dearly. Poise in possession, in defensive structure and on offense. If there was one little chink in the armor for Oxbridge all season it was a higher level of unforced turnovers and penalties versus the past few years and yesterday it was prevalent too, but in the fourth the turnovers were more of the forced type, as Ponte Vedra’s ride and defensive pressure caught up and caused many key mistakes, and PV’s offense jumped on every one of them late in the game.
In the 1st 3 quarters PV was held to only 11 total shots on goal but in the 4th they hit the net 12 times on 14 attempts and most of those were unguarded looks. One special one was not, and it tied the game in the 4th, and signified how the game turned out. Cameron Welch took a feed on the crease with two Oxbridge defenders draped all over him and he managed to muscle them both off before finishing in front. Sort of a ‘this one you’re not stopping me on’ statement play. That was part of a four-goal run in under 3 minutes to start the quarter and gave PV their first lead. After Oxbridge tied it at 8 PV again went off, with 3 goals in under two minutes to make the difference.
Each team was able to take away some offensive options and then others had to step up. OA held star middie Dylan Hess pretty well in check and PV the same with Reece Riccardo. PV’s Freddie Amato showed up big and tallied 5 goals, finishing off almost every good opportunity he got on the left wing. Connor Davies continued his aggressive play and led the Thunderwolves. Ryan Conforti also took on a more aggressive approach and Welch added on the PV side. And the rest of the PV offense took a turn in the 4th quarter.
One thing to note was on the faceoffs, as Oxbridge’s Ryan Monroe was able to lengthen the battle for the ball, but even though PV’s Jimmy Burns ended up with the 14-10 advantage, he was limited in getting fast breaks off the faceoff.
After the game Oxbridge Head Coach Stan Ross noted that never before had a team of his given up 7 goals in a quarter. There’s a first for everything. If these teams meet again on May 11th (and I still make that my most likely pick, although I could look foolish, as usual . . .), there will be a first for that game too. A first title for either school . . . another first-time winner. It’s quite possible we might see that as a given no matter which 4 teams make it.
The next time they meet watch to see who controls the pace, it will tell you who will likely win. We saw both of those games, packed into one big one. And up tempo won the game. What will happen the next time?
Controlling emotion will be as important as controlling tempo.
I hope to find out.
Oxbridge opened the scoring at 10:53 as Vinnie Cerasuolo took the Davies feed from behind the net on the low left for the right hand low shot. Davies then converted off the fast break at 8:20 for the 2-0 lead as Cerasuolo found Davies in the middle from low left for the right hand finish. Welch got one back for PV as Carter Parlette found him cutting to the crease from the right wing and Welch finished behind the back at 6:07. Oxbridge scored on the EMO with 1:26 left as Conforti fed Davies on the low left from the top left for the step down right hand low and it was 3-1 after the first.
PV cut it to 3-2 at 7:48 as Joe Taraboletti found Amato on the low left with a skip pass from top right and Amato finished low right behind OA goalie Christian Tomei. OA got that one back at 4:13 on the EMO as Conforti took advantage of a back pick to finish the Jack Kilian feed from up top with the left wing step down for 4-2 but Amato responded just 38 seconds later as Hess found him on the right crease from the left wing for the one timer and 4-3. Davies finished up the first half with a solo effort down the left side, gaining possession near midfield and dashing down the left before beating his defender to the front for the low shot with 1:09 to go to make it 5-3.
In the 3rd OA got the first tally with 7:01 left as Cerasuolo finished another fast break, taking the low left feed from Davies on the top left and finishing low past PV goalie Jake Parlette. Less than a minute later Amato again answered, this time on a right alley dodge and right hand finish to the top left corner for 6-4 but then it was again Conforti converting the backscreen look on the left side from the Kilian up top feed at 3:54 and the third ended with OA up 7-4 and looking fully in control.
But it’s sports. High school sports. And . . . stuff . . . happens.
At 10:22 it was Amato on the EMO (sorry, missed the assist) taking the pass from behind the net on the left wing for the step down shot to the top right for 7-5. At 8:52 it was C. Parlette with the right wing snipe to the top short side and Welch’s goal mentioned above at 8:16 to tie it. Then Welch was somehow left all alone in front on another fast break at 7:37, taking the feed from Taraboletti and all of a sudden PV had the 8-7 lead.
Riccardo got it back even at 6:06 as he curled from behind the right side and finished with the left hand high short side to make it 8-8. And then the PV pressure caused a meltdown. At 4:50 it was Amato finishing off the Jack Dowd feed after a turnover in the offensive end, leading to a fast break and a feed to the low left for 9-8. Another turnover on the clear gave Dwod a clear path down the middle for the 10-yard step down at 3:13 for 10-8 and on the ensuing faceoff a violation let Tommy Vitiello swoop in alone down the middle before Oxbridge reacted and his long pole found net low at 3:08.
Davies again dashed solo down the left and beating his defender to goal to draw one back at 2:07 and then Oxbridge again regained possession but a Riccardo step down attempt from a great spot was stopped by Parlette and that was the last good shot OA had to make it an even more rip-roaring finish.
Round One to the Sharks.
Will there be a Round Two?
Faceoffs: PV 14-10
Shots: PV 34-30
Shots on Goal: PV 23-17
Turnovers: OA 15-13
Penalties: OA 9-8
Freddie Amato 5G
Cameron Welsch 3G
Carter Parlette and Jack Dowd with 1G/1A each
Tommy Zitiello 1G
Joe Taraboletti 2A
Dylan Hess 1A
Nolan Parlette with 8 saves
Connor Davies 4G/2A
Vinnie Cerasuolo and Ryan Conforti with 2G/1A 3each
Reece Riccardo 1G
Jack Kilian 2A
Christian Tomei with 12 saves (note: Chandler Prescott also played a few late minutes while Tomei was serving a locked in penalty)
Thanks to both Coach Ross and Coach West for talking to me before and after the game.