The latest chapter in the rivalry between Saint Andrew’ and Oxbridge was fought in Palm Beach Lakes on Thursday, with the Scots holding off the Thunderwolves 9-7. Although Oxbridge has only played for about 10 years now, the genesis of this rivalry began in 2016, due to a first-round FHSAA upset of the Scots, and ever since then these teams have gone back and forth at each other. Last season, the Scots won both games, a one-goal win in the first game of the season and that was followed up by an easier 10-4 win in the District final.
By the way, my annual quest to figure out what a Thunderwolve actually is might have some closure now, according to this:
Who is the ThunderWolf?
The Thunderwolf was one of the ancient wolves that Russ fought and vanquished. So vast was the Thunderwolf that its growl was the thunder and the glint of its fangs the lightning, but Russ was louder and more fearsome still.
If anyone can further explain this to me, I’d greatly appreciate it . . .thunderwolve – Search (bing.com)
The Scots and Thunderwolves are no longer in the same District, so they can’t play three times with the at-large bids. Each school already holds a victory over their closest District competitor so the likelihood is that they will be the two top seeds in their Districts, and if they repeat those wins, in the Region. Given that Belen and Gulliver are likely to be the other District winners, as long as Strength of Schedule means anything to the mysterious FHSAA ranking system, they will be the two top seeds in the Region too.
I don’t think I saw Oxbridge play a regular season game last season, just the two district playoff games and as I mentioned in a previous article, not much of SA either. That left a bit of a blank canvas to fill in. One thing that kind of creeped up on me was that Oxbridge HC Stan Ross’ son JD was now a 6’1″ sophomore attackman. I could have sworn he was about 4′ tall 3 years ago as a kid on the sideline. Geez, these things sneak up on one when you age . . .
A very pleasant surprise was that Oxbridge has built out the concession area and carries the ‘Ballpark Special’! A REALLY good grilled cheeseburger (none of that McDonald’s ‘slip it under the door on delivery’ type – I heard George Carlin first use that line!), bag of Famous Amos chocolate chip cookies and a bottle of water for $5!!! At that price I might eat half my dinners there.
One thing you can count on when the two meet is that you are likely going to earn everything you get. Neither gives up easy looks and the last few years have seen a LOT of long poles from these schools moving on to the next level.
One thing you DON’T count on seeing is a lot of turnovers. Somehow, that occurred. Whether it was teams being tight, gripping the sticks a little too hard, defenses pressuring out, bad decisions . . . whatever you think (and it was likely all the above), I tallied 50 combined and a lot were of the unforced variety. Another thing you don’t usually see these two teams do is shoot around 50% on goal, they tend to be well above that. Perhaps the two goalies got a little inside the shooter’s heads. Neither Gunnar Schwarz on SA, nor Oxbridge’s Parker Fite were statistically dominant. Fite in particular was very aggressive in challenging shooters. Schwarz is more of a show and take it away. Both were facing shooters who were a bit off, either high or getting too fine.
The only statistic that was not pretty equal was the penalties, as SA was flagged 7 times while OA only served time in the last minute of the game. Oxbridge converted on three of those seven, and two of those were in the 4th quarter when they closed within one.
After that last one we were all treated to a deja vu moment, as SA’s Sean Jordan once again swooped in on a faceoff loose ball from the wing, scooped, went to about 15 yards out and let loose with a left-hand bullet to the top right to give SA the insurance goal. Hint to goalies . . . make him hit the low left next time. That faceoff win was the only one in the fourth for the Scots, as we also witnessed a fascinating clash of faceoff styles between OA’s Adam Stowell and SA’s Nick Golubov . . . I had it 11-7 for OA in total. Adam reminded me a LOT of Bobby Datillo, a heck of a FOGO for Hobart.
The rest of the season is a bit divergent. Oxbridge’s schedule was pretty balanced with quality and 18 games, while SA is already two-thirds over, with Boys’ Latin on Monday, with St. Thomas, St. Edward’s and Ponte Vedra coming up. A good time to get their legs back (Dallas Jesuit gave them their first loss yesterday) for the path to possible championship defense.
The first quarter ended 1-0 for the Scots, as they scored a short-hand goal with 3:49 to go in the quarter. Kurt Schwarz finished the Matt Filippo dash down right wing as he took a pass in the middle for the low left corner shot. 10 SA turnovers and 7 for OA, plus 4 saves for Schwarz were the theme of the quarter.
OA tied it just 16 seconds into the 2nd as George Wandoff fired off the post, leaving Patrick Cerasuolo all alone to pick up the loose ball rebound and shovel it into the net for 1-1. Less than a minute later it was Schwarz finishing off the fast break, taking the JoJo Pores feed from low left on the right crease for the one-timer. At 6:25 the lead went to 3-1 as Jack Schulte found Jack Ewen on low right from behind for the short side and 2 minutes later Cole Hofbauer went left alley to make it 4-1. With 3:16 left, the Zegras brothers teamed up for OA, with Quinn finding Campbell on low right for the left low shot and 4-2 at halftime.
25 seconds into the third the T-wolves pulled within one as Caden Riccardo found Dawson Brown cutting into the middle and his right-wing pass was converted for 4-3. On another EMO, Brown face dodged from low right and tied it up at 4 at 8:39 to go. SA responded with 2 goals in 11 seconds to regain the lead at 6-4. Caleb Fox made it 5-4 at 6:35 as he leaned into his defender, stepped back and bounced a shot to the top left corner and Shulte found Leyton Zorumski up top for the step down to the low left for the two-goal lead. With 4:56 left OA pulled back to 6-5 as JD Ross found a cutting Cerasuolo in front for the easy finish to send us to the fourth.
A minute in it was SA 7-5 as Zach Brent went going down the middle and finding top right as the slide came late and at 8:29 it was Schulte on right wing spinning left and finishing low for 8-5. At 7:10 it was Riccardo finding Ross from up top with a skip pass down low left for the step down on EMO and at 3:39, on another one, Cerasuolo found Brown sneaking out from behind on the right crease for 8-7.
And then Jordan again worked his magic, as I covered above just 10 seconds later . . .
Both teams traded possession time, but OA couldn’t get anything going and that was the game.
Hard to believe but we are only four weeks away from Districts . . .
Faceoffs: OA 11-7
Shots: SA 26-25
Shots on Goal: OA 14-13
Turnovers: SA 26-24
Penalties: SA 7-1
Kurt Schwarz 2G
Jack Schulte 2G/1A
Jack Ewen, Cole Hofbauer, Caleb Fox, Leyton Zorumski, Sean Jordan and Zach Brent with 1G each
JoJo Pores and Matthew Filippo with 1A each
Gunnar Schwarz with 7 saves
Dawson Brown 3G
Patrick Cerasuolo 2G/1A
JD Ross 1G/1A
Campbell Zegras 1G
Caden Riccardo 2A
Quinn Zegras 1A
Parker Fite with 4 saves
Thanks to Coach Seaman and Coach Ross for talking to me before and after the game
And thanks for the Ballpark Special!