This game is pretty easy to recap.
Benjamin pretty much won every facet of the game last night at Jensen and was able to ease their way into the second round on Wednesday, when they will travel to Melbourne Central Catholic.
For whatever reason Jensen Beach came out flat and and stayed that way the entire first half and by then it was 8-1.
Jensen did score the first three goals of the second half to cut it to 8-4 but Benjamin responded with a 7-1 run to close out the game.
To sum it all up succinctly . . . Jensen had to struggle for everything they got while Benjamin was able to gain some easy tallies. They broke down the JB defense consistently, as they used spacing, particularly from behind the net, and the speed of attack was tough for JB’s solid defense to cope with.
The preview of the game noted that the team I saw beat Jupiter would not be one for Jensen to handle. After the game Benjamin coach Shane Rye thought they played better than the Jupiter game and the end result pretty much played as expected. 15 goals was clearly not what Jensen had in mind, given that the most they gave up to a non-Benjamin team all year was 11. But their opponents put up 15 both times and that’s the story in a nutshell.
In this game the Team Statistics were clearly story telling. 15-7 on faceoffs. 16 JB turnovers, which in past years was a sign of trouble for a team that likes to play patiently on offense. Nothing summed up the issue for them better than one possession, which if memory serves, was mid-late in the second period, where JB patiently took about two minutes. One shot was off cage and after a large number of passes a dropped ball as the JB player was going to get a good look was fought over with JB having the numbers, but Benjamin won the battle, went the other way 4-3 and buried the chance. Two minutes versus less than 10 seconds. A back breaker emotionally.
In most sports speed kills.
In this game, it lived up to that.
Sometimes the issue is experience, lacrosse experience. Lots of Jensen’s offense became one man play as they didn’t run much off ball movement, even when the opportunity to get to space was there. There was a lack of recognition of opportunity. Benjamin basically ran a clinic on that part of the game. The difference between relying on athleticism and relying on lacrosse IQ.
It’s something that will be on the agenda of Jensen’s players in the next season and over the summer. As they get better at it the goals will come. They have to. It’s the way forward for what has now become a solid year in and year out program that just hasn’t quite gotten to that last level of state champion competitor.
Think Oxbridge two years ago. It can be done. JB coach Brent Mahieu probably already is thinking about it, knowing his work habits.
Benjamin broke out early with Griffin Bowie finding Colin O’Hare in front after Bowie scooped up a rebound off the left side and O’Hare finished low at 10:41. Bowie then made it 2-0 unassisted with a left wing face dodge, hitting the top far corner at 9:48. Jensen responded quickly with Hunter East winning a scramble off the faceoff and he was able to get some space down the right alley and his bounce shot kicked up into the upper left corner at 9:30. Benjamin put the lead back to two on the EMO as O’Hare found Bowie on the left wing from the top right and his right hand found the top right corner at 7:25. The lead went to 4-1 as Andrew Packer and Cameron Thompson combined at 4:53 as Thompson fed Packer across the crease from the right side and Packer’s underhand shot went low and that was followed at 2:50 when O’Hare finished off the fast break as Shane Campbell found him alone in front and O’Hare shoveled a shot past goalie Landon Salie.
Less than two minutes into the second it was 6-1 as Christian Cropp drifted towards the middle from the wing and his outside bullet found the top left corner. The game settled down for awhile but with 4:43 left Benjamin scored twice in 15 seconds to break it open. First the turnover mentioned above led to a 4-3 fast break, with Michael Buttelman finding Thompson all alone on the right crease from the left side for the easy tally and then long pole Ethan Denenberg finding the loose ball on the faceoff, taking off down the middle for the the shot that found the mid left side, ending the half at 8-1.
The second half started Jensen’s way, with a couple of broken plays leading to Jensen’s first two goals. Liam Walls was fed by Kyle VanWagner in front of the crease for the one timer at 10:24 to make it 8-2 and 21 seconds later Colin Walsh took advantage of a few overrun ground ball attempts to get a one on one look at Benjamin’s Austin Michels and he was able to finish high for 8-3. Again things settled down for awhile and finally at 4:34 East was able to work from up top down the right alley and his right hand hit the top left corner for 8-4.
But that was as close as Jensen was going to get. About a minute later Thompson was able to work one on one behind the net and the Jensen defender was not able to navigate the rough spot behind the net, falling down on the play and giving Thompson a clear path to goal as the slide was late and he finished high to the short side to blunt the run. 36 seconds later it was 10-4 as Cropp beat his defender down the right alley and he finished in close to the high left corner. Then with only 5 seconds left O’Hare and Bowie teamed up as O’Hare worked behind before finding Bowie cutting down the middle for the one timer and it was basically over at 11-4 after three.
Benjamin outscored Jensen 4-1 in the fourth to end the game. Thompson got his third at 9:28 beating his defender from right wing towards the goal. Jensen got that one back at 8:28 as Kai Seymour stole a clearing pass and had a clear path to goal, finishing low. O’Hare took Thompson’s skip pass off a set play from high right wing back to the low left side at 7:14. Buttelman scored less than a minute later on a solo effort from behind and up the right side and freshman Chase Farriss got in the score book with 4:33 left off Packer’s right wing pass to the middle and his low shot closed out the scoring.
The path is clear for Benjamin. A struggle early in the season with a depleted squad is now mostly together (not fully) and the Final Four is within reach. This quadrant is down to Benjamin, MCC, Barron Collier and Cardinal Mooney. One of those is going to Jupiter and Benjamin is the favorite for now.
For the Jensen Beach players going on to the next stage of their lives, and the same for Viera too, good luck to all of you! You’ve put your schools on the map with the growth of your programs and the future is full of possibilities. Jensen is losing some high end talent, including Bryant commit Jack Staab but there’s a number of starter coming back too so we might well see another matchup next year.
Faceoffs: Benjamin 15-7
Shots: Benjamin 34-24
Shots on Goal: Benjamin 20-14
Turnovers: Jensen 16-11
Penalties: Benjamin 5-3
Colin O’ Hare and Cam Thompson 3G/2A each
Griffin Bowie 3G/1A
Christian Cropp 2G
Andrew Packer and Michael Buttelman 1G/1A each
Ethan Denenberg and Chase Farriss 1G each
Shane Campbell 1A
Austin Michels and Zack Miller combined for 9 saves
Hunter East 2G
Liam Walls, Colin Walsh and Kai Seymour 1G each
Kyle Vanwagner 1A
Landon Salie and Joe Slack combined for 5 saves
Thanks to Coach Rye and Coach Mahieu for talking to me before and after the game.