Alas, the season is now behind us and the Summer of Club is upon us . . .
Thanks for the memories!
Yep, believe it or not, a music video from THIS century! And I can’t believe i am using a Kim Kadashian appearance either . . . building my street cred as they say.
But another season has come and gone and the clock is ticking until next season.
And it’s time to thank everyone for all their hard work on and off the field and to our readership, which still stays invested in what we produce.
The Final Four came off smoothly and thanks go out to the FHSAA and their lacrosse staff. Director of Lacrosse Alex Ozuna, who sometimes cringes when he sees me walking towards him, once again oversaw the weekend event and this year we had the help of Danielle Hogue, in charge of Media Relations for the event. They were always helpful, and even though they managed to avoid my daily exhortations to visit Just Baked Boca (they were staying across the street from it!) I’ll cut them slack. The only downside was the lack of WiFi in the press box but that isn’t their issue.
It was a nice weekend for me on the Boys’ side since I was given the privilege of appearing on the NFHS broadcasts, at halftime of each semifinal game, and the halftime/after game recap combo for the championship game! Thanks to Doug for allowing me the privilege and the kind words sent the web site’s way!
Congratulations to Ponte Vedra and Lake Highland Prep for their championships, as well as Coach Tom West and Coach Chris Robinson and their staffs, the players and communities on their achievements! Both are worthy title holders. The same to the runners-up and the semifinalists as they put forward Florida’s best foot.
Let’s go all the way back to the Preseason Top 25 article to see how good/bad I did:
As for the FHSAA playoffs, I’ll make this quick:
We might well see a complete rematch from last year in the Final 8, but I think that Oxbridge will find their way out of the Southeast this year, with the first round game against SA being paramount.
In the Treasure Coast/Gulf Coast I think the home field advantage in the regional final will be HUGE. Cardinal Mooney should find their way back with Canterbury being the main impediment. The Jupiter/Benjamin winner will be on the other side and the home team might very well prevail.
In the North I don’t see anyone blocking Ponte Vedra this year
In the Tampa/Orlando area it will be interesting to see the Bishop Moore/LHP dynamic play out and if Jesuit gets by Plant. I do think Bishop Moore is still the favorite in that bracket right now
So, we are setting up another Bishop Moore/Ponte Vedra semifinal and I think that the result gets reversed this time
The other side of the bracket is awesome on paper. Just like the home field helps CM or Jupiter/Benjamin so will an Oxbridge/Cardinal Mooney Final Four, if that happens, would help Oxbridge since they play on that field at times.
Just like last year the permutations are endless and that’s a great thing for lacrosse fans.
Since I am ‘paid’ (well, not really) to make predictions let’s go with
Ponte Vedra vs Bishop Moore
Oxbridge vs the home team of Cardinal Mooney/Jupiter/Benjamin
and a Ponte Vedra vs Oxbridge championship game with PV finally taking home the trophy . . .
And I wish I could master Snap Chat so this disappears LONG before May 11th.
Well, one thing you might notice is I didn’t pick up the bracket switch of Ponte Vedra playing the CM/Jupiter/Benjamin survivor . . .
But this held up pretty well. Three of the 4 teams I picked to make it did. Jupiter did host the home game against Cardinal Mooney and they did pull it out,
Ponte Vedra did win the championship this year.
Only the late season collapse of Oxbridge kept this from being fully accurate.
The Preseason Poll did have a few issues with it but 9 of the Top 11 teams did finish in the top 11 teams this year.
Thanks to our Advertiser Triple Crown Sports for their sponsorship of this Poll for this season!
Okay, before we get to the Final Top 25 let’s remember a few things:
#TAFTAG! – Take A Friend To A Game!
and let’s add a new one that we will work into a lacrosse t-shirt . . .
Look in a little while for FLN’s swag and a line of T-Shirts you will want to own, as well as a possible tie-in to my favorite shirt provider if we can work it out!
And if I learn the proper use of YouTube and Skype we will look at a live CALL-IN show!!!
Stay tuned . . .
And don’t forget our other sponsor:
Okay, to lead us into the Final Poll, a little intro music:
Actually, it’s NOT MUSIC this time!
Since Ponte Vedra Head Coach Tom West is a devoted NY Rangers fan, and this is the 25th anniversary of the last time the Rangers will win a cup in any of our lifetimes (Says this devoted NY Islander fan and my predictions never miss), I’ll dip into the Memory Lane archives for this video that Tom will forever owe me for . . .
God, that pains me . . .
Here it is!
When you read this list please understand that this year is THE hardest final Poll I have ever considered, given how often the top teams beat up on each other and they are ranked due to what I feel is their complete body of work over the season. Some readers will be unhappy with the rankings and I understand since I could probably just put 4-5 teams tied in the middle of the Top 10.
Some of the key questions for me to ponder: Does an Oxbridge team with road wins over SA, Bishop Moore and St. Thomas, as well as home win over Jupiter, but ended the season ignominiously, be ranked by the 90% of the schedule or the ending, when they looked far from that 90%? Does STA get dinged for the Finals’ result? Does Cardinal Mooney get the benefit of the second straight year of the travel for the Elite Eight? How do you judge between Oxbridge and SA given the two polar opposite results? Bishop Moore only has a top 10 win over LHP but the eye test was impressive. And they did give PV one of their tougher wins, yet fell badly to CM.
And that’s without looking at how tough the bottom 10 will be . . .
1) Ponte Vedra – An incredible performance in the finals tops off a season that Inside Lacrosse seriously needs to consider for their National poll. If Florida can produce two of the top 8 Girls’ teams this year, then how you can not rank a team that has a) this resume and b) the Division 1 NCAA commits this team has is hard to fathom. For those not counting, I have 2 Notre Dame’s, Georgetown, Lehigh, UMass-Lowell, Mercer, Furman . . . and a few more to come.
2) Jupiter – Gave Ponte Vedra all they could handle in the semifinals after their poor regular season showing. Was leading Oxbridge in the second half on the road when Oxbridge was firing on all cylinders and finished the season strongly, with wins over CM, LHP, Benjamin, STA, St. Edward’s, Melbourne Central Catholic and Lake Mary. That’s the type of way a defending champ should defend their crown.
3) Cardinal Mooney – proved their mettle all season long, with the only two losses coming after 4-hour bus rides on a weekday. That’s impressive, as were their wins over BM and LHP. The only argument one can make against them was that some of the teams below them played a larger number of Top 10 teams but CM handled a lot of teams that were solid programs easily, as a look at their results indicates. And they easily could have taken the Jupiter win if one more break went their way. One other thing to note is how fast their part of the state is improving and it would be too simple to overlook the mid-Top 25 teams they easily handled.
4) Oxbridge – okay, get out the arrows . . . but they defeated 5 Top 10 teams this season and three of those on the road, and led PV after 3 quarters. Sure, the late season was much lower than this, but I have to look at the combined body of work here. If they had an easier path in the first two rounds they might have been able to regain their swagger and do real damage, but the ‘Group of Death’ down here does not allow that luxury.
5t) St. Thomas Aquinas – STA took the FHSAA playoff game over SA in OT and have a nice resume beyond that with wins over BM and LHP, and 2 wins over American Heritage-Plantation. SA played the MIAA slate but the Massapequa road game was the tougher game to play.
5t) Saint Andrew’s – funny how STA and SA’s programs always seem to get linked together but this year the only meeting was the playoff game . . . AD’s, time to get the regular season game back on the schedule! They have the home win over CM and that was impressive in the scheme of things. A one-goal OT game in the playoffs is the only differentiator but when looking at the complete body of work the two schools are just too close to choose between.
7) Bishop Moore – a second straight year in Boca and a heck of an effort against STA in the semis, but I can’t overlook the fact that they have the least number of Top 10 wins of the teams ranked so far and I have to take that into account. And all 3 are over teams below them. But how impressive were Jackson Canfield and Jake Pridgen as a 1-2 long pole combo! Can they make it three straight next year to the Final Four?
8) American Heritage-Plantation – they were the breakout team of the year in the state, as their only losses were to STA, and that was offset by wins over Benjamin, LHP, Pine Crest, St. Edward’s, King’s Academy and Bolles, with 3 of those wins on the road. Coach Chad Moore has something brewing here and the next step for them is to find a way to get past their District rival.
9) Creekside – another breakout season with a similar issue of their District rival, which clocked them twice. But they do hold nice wins over Jesuit of Tampa, Oak Hall, Fleming Island and Bolles, with the first two being tough road wins. The biggest argument against them is that their schedule was a little thin, but they took care of business with all the non-PV Florida schools they played. I could have easily put them in a tie with Benjamin at 9-10 but I’ll reward the record here.
10) Benjamin – Jekyll and Hyde 1.0 this year. Good wins over Jupiter and King’s, close losses to other Top 10 opponents this year and a bad loss at home to BM. Losing 4 of their last 6 games keeps them from higher consideration.
11) Lake Highland Prep – Jekyll and Hyde 2.0. The same issue as Benjamin in that they played a very tough schedule but managed to lose more of the big matchups than they won and did not beat any of the teams above them.
and now it gets tougher . . .
12) St. Edward’s – like so many others in this batch, they win the games they should, but do not have that one defining big win to make a case for higher ranking, and they are typical of that. Good wins over Gulliver, Montverde Academy, Maclay and SJP II and losses to Lake Mary, AH-Plantation and Jupiter in the FHSAA bracket.
13) Pine Crest – great record but mediocre schedule, lost to the only two Top 10 teams they played, yet handled the rest pretty well for the most part. Might be a little high but they have as much of a claim here as anyone.
14) Lake Mary – very tough schedule . . BM, PV, Oxbridge, STA, Jesuit, Jupiter, LHP, St. Edward’s. And they did beat one of them in St. Ed’s. Sometimes you have to reward a team for putting themselves out like that . . take a hint from that. Not a bad result in the FHSAA loss.
15) Western-Davie – even though they lost the Sweet 16 rematch with Gulliver I see a full body of work that is the equal of this group. Just like all the teams here, a few nice wins and a couple of losses to Top 10 teams. One goal shy of the Final 8. I’m going on what my eyes told me and this was a team just shy of being special.
16-18) The District 16 lacrosse triumvirate of Jesuit of Tampa, Berkeley Prep and Plant – there is really no way to separate these three and rank them against each other. Plant has a win over Riverview-Sarasota, Jesuit played Dallas Jesuit well and Berkeley won the regular season. But Berkeley lost to Canterbury and Riverview and Plant has the narrow win over Riverview . . . None of them have a big win Yeesh!
19) King’s Academy – a team I saw that is truly on the way up as a program. Played a very tough schedule; Oxbridge 2x, Benjamin, SA, Western, Jupiter, AH-Plantation, Lake Brantley and Calvary Christian. Pine Crest game rained out with them leading in the 2nd. Almost pulled off the upset of the year in the one-goal loss to SA and gave Oxbridge a tough district final. As you might know for now, you get brownie points with me with this type of scheduling.
20) Riverview-Sarasota – loss to Out-of-Door Academy in the District semifinals costs them some slots. Another example of a resume with good and bad on it. Still, given the age of the program this is pretty darn good.
21) Melbourne Central Catholic – played a good first half against Jupiter in the brackets but the reverse holds here . . schedule needs to substantially improve. Best wins are Coca Beach, Oviedo and Martin County and that’s not getting you ready for the FHSAA tourney, nor a high ranking from me, even with one loss all season. They’ve done it in the past; I covered their home game versus PV some years back. St. Edward’s is 35 miles away, and they play everyone. Lake Mary, Montverde Academy, LHP and Winter Park are all less than 100 miles away.
22) Bolles – a journey to the Elite 8 and two wins over Oak Hall give them the nod here even with the bad losses to PV and BM. Played AH-Plantation well too.
23) Winter Park – gets the ranking due to the victory over Bishop Moore earlier in the year. At this point in the rankings a Top 10 win like that does tend to stand out.
24) Oak Hall – they did beat Winter Park and held serve against most of the teams they should have but were outmanned in the big games. Injuries hurt.
25) 3-way tie among the teams I could best make a case for; Newsome, Hagerty and Gulliver Prep. All 3 had something going for it and all three were missing something big. In Newsome and Gulliver’s case it was the regular season schedules followed by good FHSAA showings. With Hagerty it was not getting out of District.
Also considered alphabetically:
Boca Raton, Canterbury, Fleming Island, Gulf Breeze, Gulf Coast, Lake Brantley, Maclay, Montverde Academy, Out-of-Door Academy, Saint John Paul II
Have a great summer and I’ll see you on the Club Circuit!