Preview of the FHSAA Boys’ Sweet 16!

  And remember: #TAFTAG – Take A Friend To A Game! #LacrossePutMyButtInThisSeat! #EnjoyTheGameNotTheBlame!   District 4 Bolles hosts District 2 Maclay at 6:00pm Bolles comes off the 7-6 win over ranked Oak Hall, which also occurred early in the regular season, while Maclay reversed their regular season loss to Gulf Breeze 18-8. The season for Maclay showed an improvement over the course of the season but their schedule was not up to previous seasons so it is a little hard to get a hold on this one.  Their best result might well have been their 12-7 loss at Creekside on April 11th.  They’ve been able to outscore a number of opponents but good teams have also shown an ability to score on them.  257 of their 300 goals scored for have come from only 4 players, including junior Sam Chase and Matthew Winegardner.  This is a VERY young team so maybe this is a year early for them but sometimes youth plays free and easy too. Bolles played a much harder schedule, including a 7-5 loss I covered on the road at Top 10 American Heritage-Plantation.  They also played Ponte Vedra, Pine Crest, Fleming Island and Bishop Moore, among others.  That should give them an advantage at this stage.  There are no statistics listed for them on MP. Prediction:  Whoever controls tempo likely wins this.  If high scoring it favors Maclay and if not it favors Bolles.  I think Bolles will pull this out in a close game due to their experience, but either way it looks like Maclay is back on track as a state power in future years.   District 6 Ponte Vedra travels to District 8 Lake Mary at 7:30pm In year’s past this has been the quadrant’s kryptonite game for Ponte Vedra in recent history.  They did not play this year in the regular season, which had been the case before and there’s not a lot in the track records this year that indicates Lake Mary will be able to threaten a win. The #1 ranked Sharks are undefeated in the state and were only threatened twice, and their fourth quarter performance versus Oxbridge was stunning.  There’s no weakness here after freshman goalie Noah Parlette took control of the cage.  Multiple D1 recruits are from every position on the field and the team’s hunger after last year’s semifinal disappointment keeps complacency from setting in.  There are no statistics on MP for them. Lake Mary’s season was inconsistent and their only Top 15 wins were over St. Edward’s and Jesuit of Tampa on the road, which was actually pretty impressive this year, but this is a whole different level to face.  There are no statistics on MP for them.  The team played a lot of underclassmen this year and getting this far was pretty much the ceiling going into the season.  Nest year will likely be more representative of their program. Prediction: Ponte Vedra will comfortably win this one   District 10 Lake Highland Prep travels to District 12 Bishop Moore at 7:00pm Lake Highland comes into this one after an impressive 18-7 win over Winter Park while Bishop Moore easily took down Windermere.  These two teams met in the regular season, with Bishop Moore winning 14-12 on the road back on April 10th.  Last year it was Bishop Moore finally getting over the hump against their Orlando rival and LHP has been playing catch up since then. LHP’s results have been all over the place this season and as flippant as it sounds you wonder which team will show up tonight . . . the one that lost at home to AH-P and squeaked out the OT home win versus Stoneman Douglas and lost badly to Jupiter, or the one that played much better after that Jupiter game?  The schedule was rigorous but so was Bishop Moore’s so there is no advantage in that.  For the first time in years I did not see them in person so I don’t have a good feel for them and no MP statistics are available. Bishop Moore struggled early, really turned it on in the middle and end but were clocked late by Cardinal Mooney.  That smelled like just a bad game but LHP did find a way to score on them so this game is very much a battle.  Again, no statistics for them this year on MP, and the last time I saw them was over the summer, and that’s not the same.  They return a lot of talent but the early season was possibly a bit of a hangover after last year’s finals appearance. Prediction:  I would not be surprised if this went to overtime.  The home field advantage for Bishop Moore might well make the difference.  I’ll go with Bishop Moore to pull out the tight win.   District 14 Newsome travels to District 16 Jesuit of Tampa at 7:00pm (yep, the easiest way to make it this far was to be in an even numbered district!) Newsome comes into this game after defeating All Saints Academy 7-3 in round one and Jesuit comes in after the easy home win 17-5 over Steinbrenner.  These teams did play recently with Jesuit winning 11-5 at home back on April 11th. Newsome had a great regular season but lost to the two District 16 powers they played and that has been a theme over the years in that the schedule has been light versus top programs.  They were led by Sr. Cameron Kitchiner and Fr. Luke Haley with 45 goals each and a nice supporting cast as there were 8 double digit goal scorers.  The team is also very young and maybe another year or two away from making some noise in this round. Jesuit played a much tougher slate of games, both within a difficult district as well as outside, including a great effort against Texas power Dallas Jesuit but later in the season there was some inconsistency to be cautious about.  There are no MP statistics but I did cover their easy win over a depleted Belen Jesuit and there was firepower available. Prediction:  This is one that could be interesting and off the radar a little.  Although Jesuit won the regular season game at home, and this one is also at home, this might well be a closer game than on paper, if the younger Newsome kids play loose instead of tight, given their first exposure here.  I still see Jesuit winning this but if Newsome can hang around this might go right down to the wire.   District 17 Cardinal Mooney hosts District 20 Barron Collier at 7:00pm Cardinal Mooney comes off the easy 17-6 win over Canterbury and Barron Collier upset their top rival Gulf Coast 12-9 in the first round.  These teams did not play in the regular season. Cardinal Mooney is hitting on all cylinders right now and only show the 3-goal road loss to Saint Andrew’s on an otherwise flawless resume, which included a big road win over Bishop Moore and home win versus LHP.  There are no MP statistics available, but I did witness the SA game earlier in the season.  The team is stacked and experienced on offense with a number of recruited players and well balanced.  Strong FOGO play also plays into this. Barron Collier is the biggest surprise on paper in the second round as their body of work was not impressive but they found some offense late in the season and took down a team they lost to by 6 goals in the first round.  There are no statistics on MP and I did not see them this season either. Prediction:  Cardinal Mooney will win this game easily as Barron’s late season run comes to an end.   District 22 Melbourne Central Catholic travels to District 24 Jupiter at 7:00pm MCC got here with the 19-14 home win over Cocoa Beach while Jupiter defeated St. Edward’s 13-8 at home.  They did not play in the regular season. MCC went undefeated this season but the schedule was not taxing.  There are no MP statistics for them and I did not see them during the season.  The roster seems balanced between upper and underclassmen.  I really only have one thing to go on and that is Head Coach John Combs, who has had success at other schools before. Jupiter, the defending state champions, have played far more high-end games and have not lost since they fell to Ponte Vedra.  There are no MP statistics, but I have seen them multiple times and they have talent across the board. Prediction:  MCC’s season comes to an end tonight and it should not be too close.  Scheduling matters in getting ready for this tournament.   District 26 Saint Andrew’s travels to District 28 St. Thomas Aquinas at 7:00pm Saint Andrew’s gets here with the impressive 12-5 win over Oxbridge while STA easily beat Pine Crest at home.  They have not played each other in the regular season for years now and it’s time for the AD’s to get that one back on the schedule.  SA prevailed last year in this round in OT after tying it in the dying seconds in one of the greatest atmospheres one could hope for a game. Saint Andrew’s comes into this one on a roll after starting the season with losses to top competition.  The schedule was rigorous for both teams but SA’s was more so this year and that can’t hurt in this great rivalry game.  Their MP statistics show a lot of balance and in the games I saw them play they played best when the ball was moving.  SA’s defense really came on strong later in the year as freshman goalie Gunnar Schwarz solved what was possibly a weak position going into the season. St. Thomas’ MP statistics do not look fully complete but they relied a little more on their athleticism and Brock Gonzalez led the way in goals by a wide margin according to MP.  One area where STA should have a big advantage is at the faceoff spot as Jared Chenoy was lights out this season.  Goaltending was not as settled as SA’s was and that is something to follow tonight. Prediction:  First of all, you will see a MASSIVE crowd in attendance and intensity coming from them.  This is the traditional marquee rivalry down here besides Jupiter-Benjamin and the rivals take it very seriously.  As for the game . . . I’ve seen both teams multiple times and the old saying about throwing the stats out the window certainly holds true in this one.  It’s coming down to the wire either way.  My gut tells me that you pay attention to two things, how much advantage does STA get on faceoffs versus STA’s save percentage, as SA’s offense is very efficient right now and STA will not see easy looks in goal. The STA faithful will roast me if I am wrong but I see SA squeaking out this one, potentially again in OT.   District 29 Western travels to District 31 Gulliver Prep at 4:00pm today LINK to the live stream of this game at 4:00pm Gulliver Prep comes into this game after the easy first round win over Key West while Western took the exciting 15-11 road win over Columbus.  An advantage to Western for having to play a tough game in round one.  These teams did play in the regular season, back in February and Western won an 11-10 OT win at home.  Of course, February is a long time ago for this season. Gulliver played a decent schedule but most of the tougher games were earlier in the season and they did lose to Columbus late.  There are no MP statistics available and I did not see them play this season and really don’t have a good feel for them.  The roster looks balanced among classes. I have seen Western twice now and they’re schedule was tougher and there were some good wins along the way against ranked teams.  There are no MP statistics but I can say they are experienced on offense and have both a solid FOGO and defense/goaltending. Prediction: Although they played the OT game early the trend for each team over the second half of the season seems to favor Western right now and even with the 2nd straight road game I see momentum taking them to the road win and a home date in the regional finals.   Good luck to all teams and hopefully I won’t be TOO embarrassed tomorrow!