We as sports fans spend a lot of time focusing on the most successful of franchises and the rivalries that go with them.
Yankees-Red Sox. Celtics-Lakers. Tiger-Phil (or Arnie-Jack if you are of my generation).
It’s easy to get up emotionally as a fan when you know the history. In this state you have Lake Highland-Saint Andrew’s. Jupiter-Benjamin. And others. You know what you will get . . . hard fought, close games that will highlight the best this sport has to offer.
It’s no secret that these schools and a number of others that have success year after year have some advantages; none more than the ability to develop feeder programs of youths that eventually slot into positions. Schools, both private AND public that have that luxury (actually luxury is not a fair term, it takes a LOT of work and effort to make those systems go) end up year after year with winning teams. They don’t rebuild, they reload, as the cliche goes.
And then there is the other side.
There are approximately 200 high schools playing varsity high school lacrosse this season in the state of Florida. There are not 200 feeder programs. Many of the schools have to make do with what they can. Sometimes that means something as basic as scrounging around for equipment and begging teams to play them. Holding fundraisers just to buy the basics.
And coaches who care just as much as those at the glamour programs but basically have one hand tied behind their back.
But they do have one thing going for them; players who care.
They have to care.
Because they are playing more for fun than glory. And because they want to.
Neither Coral Springs Charter nor Taravella are any threat to win a state championship anytime in the near future. CSC plays an independent schedule so they don’t qualify anyhow. Taravella is locked into a District this year with Stoneman Douglas, Pine Crest, Calvary Christian and Cardinal Gibbons. They didn’t qualify for the District playoffs and frankly might not do so for quite awhile.
They are ranked 141st and 155th in the LaxPower rankings going into the game.
I passed up the Jupiter-Milton (Ga.) game to attend this one.
And I’m glad I did.
I found some surprises and some not so surprises.
The quality of play was what I was expecting. A number of these kids are just starting to play and it showed in a number of ways. Almost everyone was one-handed and that makes offense pretty tough, since it becomes apparent to the opposing defense also that they are one-handed and that they just have to take that side away. The lacrosse IQ is what you expect too. Not cutting back door too often, shooting from too far out, not knowing how to space yourselves properly. All the little things that are so hard to internalize while you are just trying to learn the game and get the basics down.
And that comes with another issue. This might have been the most physical game I witnessed all year and a lot of that has to do with the inability to pick up a ground ball cleanly and the longer the ‘scrum’ goes on the more opportunities for someone to get laid out pretty good. And that happened a lot in this game.
Kids, one word of advice. When your coach screams ‘Two Hands’, it’s for your own protection, not just because it’s a hot dog move that can end up costing you a game.
Okay, I’m done lecturing.
As far as positive surprises are concerned.
These kids played their hearts out. Up and down. Hanging in there with all the hitting. Not quitting the whole game.
The goalies both saw the ball well and made the saves they needed to make.
Oh, by the way . . .
Coral Springs Charter held on to win 6-5, holding off a late Taravella rally.
I didn’t get to see the whole game. Came in near the end of the first period.
Note to the CSC Athletic Department – when a journalist leaves you a message at 9:00am asking when and where a game is, RETURN THE CALL. When it comes to high school lacrosse we carry more weight than the Sun-Sentinel, local TV stations and PB Post combined.
Well, you could take out the PB Post and the calculation wouldn’t change. Zero coverage is ZERO coverage
I promise I won’t brag like that again . . . just need to make a year-long festering editorial point about how pathetic the local media cover lacrosse, with the exception of my podcast buddy Wells and his efforts at WPTV and ESPN760. After running around all season to provide this coverage I’m allowed one shot in print . . .
Okay, now I’m REALLY done with the lecturing.
I had no idea the school does not have their own field. CSC plays it’s home games at North Community Park . . . just another barrier they go through; another hoop to jump through for these kids and their coaches.
After the first period the game was tied at 2-2 and at halftime CSC had taken a 4-2 halftime score. It’s where I picked up the game summary.
Taravella opened the third period by scoring on the EMO at 7:32. N. Holcomb took a left crease feed from Camilo Restrepo on the right wing. It was a beautiful diagonal skip pass that found Holcomb all alone and he made no mistake, finishing right-handed to the lower left corner of the net.
CSC regained the two goal lead at 6:13 as Kyle Podwika found Cosimo DiCicco cutting down the middle from the left wing and led him perfectly. DiCicco finished right-handed with a bounce shot to the right side and the third quarter ended with CSC still holding a 2-goal lead.
CSC pushed the lead to three midway through the fourth. Riley Morse took a left crease feed from Matias Gasc on the upper left wing and fired one home past Taravella goalie Kyle McDonald at 6:27 and it looked like they had taken complete control of the game. CSC tried to run off clock while still pushing for more but got a little too aggressive when patience with the ball would have been a better idea.
And Taravella took advantage.
With 3:45 left, Shane Marr picked off a clearing attempt near midfield and ran down the middle before unleashing a long bounce shot that kicked up into the net to make it 6-4.
Taravella continued to press for more and CSC was still not thinking patience and with just 48 seconds on the clock Jimmy Lang took Holcomb’s left wing feed going down the middle and beat CSC goalie Mekhail Cuvin one on one to make it 6-5.
Taravella won the ensuing faceoff but wasn’t able to get a shot off. After forcing one last turnover Taravella was able to get downfield but one last desperation shot was fielded cleanly by Cuvin and the game ended at 6-5.
Pretty much exactly as you would have expected watching the whole game.
You could see the results in the kids eyes. Totally spent. A physical toll. But tomorrow they wake up, go back to class and after school back to the practice field to get ready for the next game.
Kids, for you, and all the schools that are not followed religiously by all of us . . . keep plugging along and keep your heads up regardless of the scoreboard at the end of the game. You’re playing a great sport for the right reason.
I’ve saved the best surprise for last.
Both coaches deserve a lot of credit too.
Taravella’s Rob Herzog runs the program by himself. No assistants. A local kid who actually graduated Taravella but managed to get noticed in upstate NY by the West Genesee coaching staff from summer ball. Which led to his choice of college . . . readers of my columns know where this is going . . . Hobart! Another homeboy! A couple of more and I’ve got my own alumni Master’s team down here.
Having to go it alone, in this day and age.
That deserves respect all by itself.
And CSC Coach Romeo Cuvin. Never played the sport. In this position because HIS SON petitioned the school administration to get the go ahead to start the program. Four years ago. As an 8th grader.
Read that paragraph again.
When you graduate college and need a recommendation feel free to call me for one.
Coach Cuvin also works hard, with pretty much no support from the school financially. Just glad that his kids would get the coverage and very appreciative that I had showed up to watch it.
Thanks Coach, and the pleasure was all mine.
I made the right decision to come here tonight.
Thanks kids and thanks Coaches Herzog and Cuvin for reminding all of us that not all great lacrosse stories occur at the glamour games!