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32 – The Magic Number Is 5 – Let’s Get it On! The Southeast

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
  It’s that time of the season!!!   Yes Jim . . . not kidding . . .   First, the predictions:   Oxbridge vs SA Stoneman Douglas vs STA Archbishop McCarthy vs Belen Jesuit Gulliver Prep vs Key West   Okay, substitute Western-Davie for Archbishop McCarthy as Doug Shanahan makes his presence in his first year at the helm; congrats to him and the squad! But once again we are faced with predicting the incredible top of this quadrant . . . #6 vs #8 #1 vs #7 Throw in the Benjamin – St. Ed’s game in the area . . . #4 vs #15 . . . and the rest of this bracket and one thing is pretty clear. If you live in Dade up through Palm Beach County and you DON’T ATTEND a game . . . WHAT ARE YOU THINKING OF? Turn in your lacrosse card! You are not a fan . . .   Oxbridge Travels to Saint Andrew’s   This one has a little bit of everything.  Revenge.  Regular season rematch.  Two head coaches who are pretty tight.  Lots of experience.  Key injuries.  Both finished 15-4 and played a number of the same teams. And one heck of a lot of possibilities. Oxbridge is coming off what I would call a season of validation . . . validation meaning that last year’s late season is now ingrained as expectation.  Losses were to SA, Boys’ Latin, IMG and Stoneman.  Wins over Jupiter on the road, Lake Mary, Centennial and Valor Christian (CO).  The regular season game at SA was a 10-6 loss on the road and there were a number of hit posts that could have made this down to the line. And of course, there’s a little thing called last year’s bracket upset. SA is coming into the playoffs with what we call in the investment world a ‘high beta’ . . . at times off the charts great and at times head-scratching for their talent level.  Injuries have taken a toll at times.  The losses were to IMG, Boys’ Latin, Jupiter and Centennial.  Wins over Benjamin on the road, Stoneman, LHP, Valor and Saint Edward’s. And of course, there’s this little thing called last year’s bracket upset. Prediction: Oxbridge has yet to win at SA albeit this year’s regular season game was quite the closing of the gap.  Last year I thought one of three scenarios as possible . . . this year it is 2.  If this is an Oxbridge lead in the fourth their superior defense will find a way to hold on.  If this is an SA lead going into the fourth and it is at least three goals their superior offense will be able to take it home. Since I have to make a pick I will give the slight edge to SA as their overall schedule (including what is a huge difference in the District games these two had to play) better prepares them so I see SA 12 – OA 10.   Stoneman Douglas Travels to St. Thomas Aquinas   This game intrigues me as much as any.  They played last year as STA pulled away for the relatively easy win and the same result pretty  much played out in this year’s regular season. As did SA-Oxbridge last year . .  . 15-4 Stoneman ended the season on a roll, with a 7-game winning streak that included wins over Oxbridge, St. Edward’s and Pine Crest in a tight district final.  Their offense kicked it into high gear over that period too.  Where the game will be possible for them to win they will need to step up defensively.  All four of their losses were in the four games they yielded double digits, including 13 in the first go round with STA.  Although the team likes to play high scoring games I think that in this one they need to try to lengthen offensive possessions. 16-1 STA has remained ranked #1 the entire season and this senior class has lost only two games in the last three years . . . they are battle tested and their schedule looks a lot better now than it did earlier, with teams like Barron Collier and St. Edward’s stepping up big.  Their strength to me is that they don’t beat themselves, their confidence in themselves is strong and their defensive midfield makes it very hard to get to what is a little less deep defense this season than in the past. Prediction: For Stoneman to win this game they will need to get a lead somewhere in the second half and force STA’s thinner defense to stay on the field for lengthy possessions and try to convert at the end of those.  I can’t see them winning a high scoring game. If not, then they will likely lose a closer game than in the past as STA goes on with the 11-8 win.   Western-Davie Travels to Belen Jesuit   The intrigue in this one is simple.   W-D head coach Doug Shanahan returns to where he was looking to build a program in Belen’s back yard to face a Belen team that is looking to take one more step from last year’s Sweet 16 loss.  Throw in that in the regular season Belen took an easy 15-4 win at home. 12-8 Western-Davie was able to reverse their regular season loss to Archbishop McCarthy to win their first round district game and then completed the only #4 seed victory at district in the entire state with their 13-7 win over Cooper City.  It was a nice turnaround from last year’s losing record.  When you look at the results of the year you could clearly see a program going the right way but not yet ready for prime time. 16-4 Belen finished strong and has the much better comparative record and has wins over American Heritage/Plantation, Boca Raton and Gulliver Prep.  Chalk should hold here.  Coach Alan Bellando’s Belen program right now has passed all but Gulliver in Dade County and that is pretty much close to equal right now. Prediction:  Belen Jesuit wins this one comfortably  14-7   Gulliver Prep Travels to Key West   If this were the regular season the Gulliver team would be looking forward to this one but to play a playoff game this long bus trip can’t possibly help.  This is the perfect example of a nouveau matchup.  Key West has quickly built a nice program and this will be a rematch of last year’s first round where Gulliver dominated them. Key West comes in 16-1 with the only loss to Belen and does have a couple of interesting road wins over Immokalee and North Broward Prep.  I did see the NBP game and while the program is certainly on the right track it isn’t ready yet to step up and win at the GP level.  The bigger takeaway today will be how much closer the game is, as this GP team is not as good as last year’s. Gulliver Prep finished 11-6 and struggled against the normally tough schedule they play but those games will easily prepare them for the task ahead today.  Playing Ponte Vedra, St. Edward’s, Stoneman, Berkeley Prep, Barron Collier etc. is way above Key West’s pay grade. Prediction:  The home crowd and long bus ride will hamper Gulliver but not to the point where they will lose.  Gulliver wins this one 13-5.   That will make the next round:   Belen Jesuit vs Gulliver Prep Saint Andrew’s vs St. Thomas Aquinas   Get out to a game today!