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Some Midseason Musings . . .

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Hard to believe, but in 30 days, District Playoffs start . . . by the way, it’s Daylight Savings tonight . . . that also snuck up on me

Slip Sliding Away, as Paul Simon wrote

I made a comment, almost as an afterthought, on Morning Coffee after Lake Highland knocked off St. Thomas, about if we were seeing a changing of the guard. It’s certainly starting to look like it. Maybe not at the top of the rankings . . . although there will be a new #1 in Boys 1A this week . . . but more about where the deepest part of the state is this year.

In 2021, the Southeast swept all four state titles. Last year, it was two, and St. Thomas had to rally late to make it that. This year, I can see a scenario where they win none. American Heritage-Delray is still the favorite in Girls 1A, but the other three are wide open.

Last night’s win by St. Edward’s at Saint Andrew’s was an eye opener. No respite for the Scots, as they travel to #3 Benjamin, with the Bucs looking for their first win in the rivalry. Not an easy way to get back on track after a loss. St. Edward’s outhustled the Scots (the game is available on the Go Scots YouTube channel if you want to watch it) and played a very smart game. I reached out to a member of the SA coaching staff and asked if they could remember the last time the Scots had trailed a Florida team by more than two goals. I found out later that it was a 3-goal deficit to STA last year in an 8-7 loss, but it might go back to 2019 before that.

Until last night. I believe it was a 4-goal deficit in the 4th before SA made it really interesting in the last 2 minutes before SE potted an empty net goal for the 14-12 final.

That’s an unreal accomplishment, to lead all those games.

So how do they respond tonight on a quick turnaround? It’s become a gut-check game beyond what it was before. What also made last night interesting is that St. Ed’s was in the opposite spot last year, with SA visiting Vero Beach after SE had made their first appearance as a #1 1A team in that week’s Poll. SA handled them comfortably and SE never really got back fully on track, as injuries took their toll, with SA going through to their second title in a row, without being taken down to the wire with a one-goal lead (Benjamin got within 2 in the finals but that was it).

And that was not the ONLY story last night.

Bishop Moore’s Girls took Lake Highland down to the wire in a 10-9 game, with LHP pulling it out.

A Bishop Moore team that was 3-5 going into the game.

Steinbrenner’s Girls stepped up to face a nationally ranked Paul VI, of Virginia, and they went down 15-10. Still, nice to see them get their shot at the national level like that.

And American Heritage-Delray Girls also took on a major out-of-state opponent, going down to Cardinal Gibbons of North Carolina by a goal.

USA Lacrosse Magazine, which still thinks Gunnar Schwarz is SA’s starting goalie LINK, even after my email to them over 24 hours ago, which was ignored since they’re the experts, has now seen their South Region #1 Boys and Girls teams go down in basically 3 hours. To be fair to AH-D, Gibbons was ranked #4. Next week’s rankings will be fun.

2A #1 Lake Mary took it pretty good to Jupiter last night, with a 12-4 win over the Warriors.

And in a great win for the state, Ponte Vedra went north to Virginia and took down that magazine’s national #25 St. Stephens & St. Agnes, 16-14, on a wet, cold and dark field. Tomorrow, they get their shot at #7 Bullis, and if they win, maybe we could actually get a few crumbs of ranking among the Northeast rating cabal.

A suggestion I’ve made before . . .

Ty, you have this AMAZING platform to grow the game in the newer hotbeds.

I rank Top 15’s for about 100 schools each. It allows me to give recognition to a team like Niceville, where they have all sorts of obstacles to travel to make their case. Two years ago, they actually were in the same District as Forest, a THREE HUNDRED THIRTY MILE trip.

Are they Top 15? Hard to say. But since 15% of the schools get ranked, I can acknowledge their 6-0 record at the time until more data came in.

IL’s’ National Poll is a Top 25, to cover . . . oh, a guess might be 2,000 high school programs . . . how can you only do a Top 25? And just about every one of those 25, almost every year, are in the Northeast.

Make it a Top 40-50, and make sure 20% of those slots are allocated to the new hotbeds, to acknowledge how far they have come. This isn’t ‘participation trophy’ stuff; it’s GROW THE GAME STUFF. 8-10 schools from Florida, Georgia, Texas, California, etc., will do more to keep the sport going and growing. Heck, it even gives you more than 25 Northeast slots to play with.

Start thinking strategically boys . . .

Okay, back to the Sunshine State.

The Changing of the Guard, whether temporary or permanent (ALL things are temporary until proven permanent, as my Dad would say). we won’t know for a few years. But I can certainly feel an intensity gap between the Southeast and the rest of the state. You see it in the size of the home crowds, which are down significantly in this area. The rest of the state has yearned to win titles for quite a while now. LHP Boys and Girls, Ponte Vedra Boys, Bartram Trail Girls, Jupiter Boys. St. Thomas Boys and Girls, Vero Beach Girls and SA Boys. They’ve crossed the finish line.

Who’s Next?

Steinbrenner Girls? Lake Mary Boys? Jesuit Boys? Winter Park Boys? Bolles Boys? Hagerty Girls? Ponte Vedra Girls? Cardinal Mooney Boys? Plant Boys? Is there a St. Peter’s lurking?

Their fan bases are energized. The Southeast’s are not.

Results are certainly spreading out. Programs are on the rise.

We’re set up for a great second half of the season . . . and potentially an earthquake or two in Naples in early May.


Ave Maria Creates Their Lacrosse Miracle

2015 was their first year, with a 3-10 record, outscored 40-1 in their first two games. A young Miami Killian grad named Abby Castro suffered through that year. Here we are in 2023 and she is the assistant coach. Colombian by heritage. Plays for their national team.

A year later, it was a little better, going 5-8, and included a Melbourne Central Catholic grad in Katelyn Sherman, who went on to hold all the career records at Ave Maria; for goals, assists and points. She took over as head coach last summer. Even spent two years in Elmira, which certainly builds character.

In 2017, the team went 7-7, the closest they’ve come to a winning record.

The defending national champions in Women’s NAIA, Benedictine (KS), came to town last week, surely thinking this was going to be a win. Since NAIA’s polls are a little less frequent, they technically entered the game at #1, since their one-goal losses to Missouri Baptist and Keiser had occurred after the Poll.

Still, the defending national champions.

The Florida lacrosse community needs to understand how big an upset this was for the team and the two coaches who came back to their Alma Mater to rebuild a team that had lost 21 of their last 31 games prior to this season.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say this was a bigger upset than we will likely see all year in the state. The team’s nickname is Gyrenes, which seems most likely to be a military term used as a combination of GI and Marine.

They stormed Normandy last week and won the day. Hats off to you and Semper Fi (hmm, does that fit?)!


These next four weeks . . .



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See you next time . . .