Thanks to Paul Kabalin for these pictures!
During the 3rd quarter I had to tweet ‘This is what the sport is about’ . . . or just another way of saying #LacrossePutMyButtInThisSeat.
And it must have been true for others last night too. Filling a seat every 18 inches (I would guess close to 500 last night) . . . which probably beats an airline seat these days . . . is a beautiful thing on a Thursday night, colder than normal game. About the only thing this one missed was a last minute drama . . . but we can thank Oxbridge goalie Christian Tomei and the Oxbridge offense for that. Tomei stood on his head in the second half, stopping 9 of the 11 shots on goal sent by Jupiter’s snipers as Oxbridge killed off SEVEN second half Man-Down’s, including two 6-4 situations. The second one coming in the fourth as the Thunderwolves nursed a one goal lead and was a full minute for the 6-4 and a second minute unreleasable on 6-5 about halfway through the quarter. And I’ll add a first half save that we should all be thankful he has a strong neck, since it was a step down from about 10 yards straightaway smack in the face mask at pace.
Jupiter’s Dylan Frankhouser dominated the faceoffs, as expected, but the interesting stat to me was the penalties. I don’t remember Oxbridge taking that many in any of the games I’ve covered, as the final tally was 8-2. In a way, Jupiter’s offense in the second half played so little 6 on 6 that their rhythm did not come out in the second half and the Man-down kills gave Oxbridge some momentum and eventually confidence.
As I try to mention at times, the top programs play plenty of tough games against each other and it’s going to be pretty rare when a team runs the table throughout the season, including the playoffs, when scheduling this way. It’s still about the FHSAA crown at the end and with the number of top teams where it is now there’s no point in drawing too many conclusions.
One interesting thing from last night’s game was sort of a repeat from the finals last year. In that second half it was Chris Radice recognizing the first time he was short-sticked behind the Bishop Moore goal and recognized it quickly enough to set up a key goal by beating a long pole slide possibility, and that happened last night too, but for Oxbridge. The play ended up being the winning goal for Oxbridge and highlighted what I wrote in the Preseason Top 25 about Jack Kilian. Kilian had drawn the long pole for much of the game, but in this one he found himself far out away from goal on the right side while clearing. It was what he did next that was so smart to me. He saw a big gap towards goal and a teammate on right GLE. He drove the alley towards the goal but instead of settling for a bad angle shot, he took the short stick behind the net and isolated on the low left, keeping the slide occupied with his teammates, and was able to take advantage of the opportunity to spin and get space, finishing the play with his only point of the game from low left. It would be great if someone could send the video of the whole play so the readers could see how this all unfolded.
Jupiter’s offense certainly got their looks. But they missed the net 5 times in the 3rd when they could have stretched the lead. Trevor Sousa potted two in the 2nd quarter (the first a really gritty in-close EMO tally) and sophomore Max Sanderson went 2G/1A to lead the Warriors. Sanderson and running mate Tyler Douglass are around for another two years after this one . . . get used to seeing those two making life difficult for opponents. Radice went 1G/1A but with the EMO’s he didn’t have the ball as much as normal.
The defenses on both teams stepped up and double teams were plentiful and effective. There were very few freebies in this one on either side. Shots had to be precise . . . I still don’t know how Connor Davies’ shot to tie it in the 4th got through and it took some terrific passing plays by Jupiter to give their shooters space to hit.
All in all a great way to spend Thursday night. And let’s remember the real results count in April and May . . .
Oxbridge opened the scoring at 10:53 as Davies found Reece Riccardo cutting to the low left and his behind feed was potted by Riccardo’s left hand to the right side for 1-0. Douglass tied it at 9:14 unassisted as he got under his defender at left GLE and got to the crease for the right hand high putaway. Sanderson finished off the 3-2 fast break (sorry, missed the assist if anyone can help) on the right wing with the left hand bullet to the top short side to make it 2-1 Warriors at 6:05 but Oxbridge answered quickly at 5:51 on one of the more creative long pole assists you’ll see, with Liam Storkerson making an over the head lob pass to Riccardo, who jumped and dunked the shot for 2-2 after one, drawing a penalty too.
OA held for possession to start the second and at 11:35 they scored the EMO goal as Riccardo fed the cutting James Dorsey from right GLE for the in-tight right hand shot and the 3-2 lead. Jupiter’s Sousa answered at 7:53 on EMO as Riley Linden’s up top feed found him in the middle for the low turnaround shot for 3-3 and he scored again at 3:33 (too many 3’s there . . . ) as he worked the left wing before firing a right hand low shot for the 4-3 halftime lead.
Oxbridge tied it up at 11:37 after Jupiter got trapped on the clear and the lengthy pass was picked off inside Jupiter territory, with Vinny Cerasuolo taking the feed on right wing. He dodged towards the middle and finished with the left hand to the high left corner for 4-4. Jupiter responded with 2 goals for the 6-4 lead. Radice took Sanderson’s low right feed on the right wing for the step down to the low right side and drew a penalty at 10:30 and on the EMO the two swapped roles, with Radice taking advantage of a mistake by the OA defenseman guarding man to man, following Radice behind the net. Radice reversed the play with a pass to the open right wing and Sanderson finished with the left hand to the short side at 9:43 . . . terrific vision and recognition on both their parts on that one. After killing the first 6 on 4, Oxbridge’s Sebastian Rupp cleared and found Ryan Conforti all alone about 35 yards out and Conforti was able to go straight to goal unimpeded for the goal at 2:10 that made it 6-5 after the third.
Davies tied it up with the goal I mentioned above, curling from behind right and hitting the short side from a sharp angle at 9:59. Kilian then potted the game winner at 7:46 as described above. The second 6 on 4 kicked in after that and when OA regained possession they started to run clock. On a scramble off the loose ball it was Riccardo finding the space in the middle for the insurance tally at 2:51 and eventually Davies beat the double team from behind the net and scored into the empty net with 1:44 to play to end it at 9-6.
Oxbridge is back in action on Monday with the district game against John I Leonard and on Tuesday we get the next installment of the BDDFIF as the Warriors visit the Benjamin Bucs . . . and I’ll be there for that! Those who might not want to make that trip . . . St. Thomas is Hosting American Heritage-Plantation that night too! 6:00pm start for that one . . . benchmark time again!
Faceoffs: Jupiter 16-2
Shots: Jupiter 29-26
Shots on Goal: Jupiter 20-16
Turnovers: Jupiter 16-15
Penalties: Oxbridge 8-2
Reece Riccardo 3G/1A
Connor Davies 2G/1A
James Dorsey, Vinny Cerasuolo, Ryan Conforti and Jack Kilian with 1G each
Liam Storkerson and Sebastian Rupp with 1A each
Christian Tomei with 14 saves
Max Sanderson 2G/1A
Trevor Sousa 2G
Chris Radice 1G/1A
Tyler Douglass 1G
Riley Linden 1A
Hunter Bracci and Riley Quinn combined for 7 saves
Thanks to Coach Ross and Coach O’ Hara for talking to me before and after the game