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It’s Benjamin! District 24 Again Gives Us A Stunning Final – 8-7 Over Jupiter

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
Thanks to Lisa Erdmann for the pictures!   It gets harder each year for me to come up with original adjectives for this game. #4 and #5 meeting in a district final AGAIN. I really need to come up with a good nickname for this rivalry.  Soccer uses the term Derby.  Somehow Palm Beach Revolution Derby didn’t roll off the tongue and neither does Military Trail Mayhem, although that comes closer.  The Shane and Danny Show sounds too much like a late afternoon Lifetime Channel entry. But then I had a remembrance of a Fox Sports effort called The Best Damn Sports Show Period . . . Bingo! For now on, until proven otherwise, this game will be known as The Best Damn District Final Period.  
  And that’s not all the historical references for the night . . . I was talking to someone in attendance last night and he casually brought up a proud memory he and I both witnessed (although on tape delay because back then cheap NBA owners made sure to black out national broadcasts in their home viewing area) as kids. A memory that came to life last night and had a major impact on the game. In 1970, the NY Knicks are playing the LA Lakers in the NBA finals and in Game 5 the Knicks’ Captain Willis Reed . . . (Reed was NBA MVP in BOTH the regular season AND the playoffs AND the All Star game that year.  I don’t know if anyone else has ever done that) . . .  goes down with an injury . . . A TORN MUSCLE! . . . that should have been it for the Knicks and season-ending for him. Until in Game 7 . . . he limps out on the court . . . after taking a numbing shot . . . hits the first two baskets of the game . . . and leads the team to the Game 7 rout and a championship.   As Marv Albert intones . . . “Here Comes Willis. And the crowd is going wild . . . ”   And now, 47 years later we get . . . Here Comes Will . . .     Okay , the crowd didn’t go wild (not for lack of size of it, it was a BIG crowd last night) but it’s not MSG with 19,000 so we’ll just say it was a pleasant surprise to see him be able to play after missing the entire season . . . and he did make a heck of an impact.  
  If this game was a 44 minute game (okay technically 43:58), Jupiter wins this game easily.  But in the last 1:02 or less of each quarter Benjamin outscored Jupiter 5-0. That’s pretty amazing. Austin Michels came up with 17 saves for Benjamin and shut out Jupiter for the last 22:27 of the game. And NEITHER TEAM scored in the fourth quarter. Jupiter had their chances . . . including 2 minutes of Man Up with 2:19 to go, but the Benjamin defense and Michels rose to the occasion to hold off the potential overtime. There even was an amazing call that wiped out a Jupiter goal late in the third quarter . . . a correct call that I was not even sure what the rule was.  The referee who called it clarified it to me so here is what happened: Late in the third Benjamin had rallied within a goal and there was a goalie interference on Jupiter, giving Michels a chance to make an outlet pass on the delayed whistle.  That pass was intercepted by Michael Dean about 5 yards away and Dean was able to find the net quickly with the shot that would have made it 8-6.  It happened so quickly that the ref had to make a quick call to waive it off, which was the correct call.  If it was a delay for a Jupiter player being in the crease instead I believe the ref would have more discretion to let the play stand, but goalie interference does not have that discretion.  A proper call at a tough point in the game . . . and I doubt anyone there would believe it would be the last time a shot went into the net for the Warriors. So many other interesting things in this game.  A number of momentum changes. 7 goals for Jupiter and 7 goal scorers.  4 2-goal scorers for Benjamin. Jupiter actually put more shots on goal than Benjamin attempted, but the Bucs hit the cage with over 70% of them. And a third quarter that any boxing fan would recognize . . . when both teams landed knockdowns.  Jupiter scoring three times in 1:27 to start the second half and take the 7-4 lead, only to see Benjamin tally the last four goals to go back up 8-7.  
  And then there was a frightening moment late in the game too. In those last few frantic minutes of defense by the Bucs, a Jupiter player up top middle was able to step down and rip a shot that looked like it caught Benjamin sophomore middie Blake Chami on the side of the helmet and he went down in that scary manner of slowly, staying down for awhile before being helped off the field.  He didn’t exactly look like he was shaking it off easily afterwards. Stick manufacturers, pay attention. Your stick designs are starting to endanger the kids and the game. And to the rulemakers . . . you are supposed to control the game, not the other way around.  Make it easier to take the ball away and harder to wind up for shots that are less accurate.  I have seen FIVE instances of this happening this year with a kid getting nailed by a wayward shot, more than ALL FOUR PREVIOUS YEAR’S COMBINED.  No kid should be able to stickhandle through all 6 defenders, getting pinballed, and still be able to hold on.  That tradeoff needs to start to favor shooting accuracy, not shooting power or ball carrying. It will make the game safer AND better. Please re-visit this ASAP.  I might not be the best to listen to but someone like Richie Moran is, and he has been saying this for awhile. Listen to him, not me.     Nicklaus opened the scoring for Benjamin at 7:07 unassisted as he worked on low right wing and stepped towards the left, hitting the top short side for 1-0.  At 3:22 Jupiter took advantage of the EMO to tie it as Tanner Gabriel found Denver Aranda on the right wing from right GLE for the step down shot to the low left side.  The Warriors took the lead a little over a minute later as Devon Rasmus was able to step into one from the right wing, hitting the top right corner for 2-1, only to have Benjamin score with 54 seconds left to tie it, as Blake Erdmann spun while on the left wing and he found the low right side to end the period. Chris Radice gave Jupiter the lead back at 6:53 of the second as he worked from behind the right side and up the wing before hitting with the left hand low for 3-2.  Then with 2:18 left they extended to 4-2 with a middle play, Kenny Cronin finding Dylon Frankhouser in the low middle for the turnaround shot.  But the first killer last minute saw the Bucs score twice in the last 45 seconds to tie it up.  First it was Christian Cropp ripping from about 15 yards on the right wing off the Michael Buttelman feed and then it was Nicklaus finding Erdmann on the right wing for the top corner shot for a 4-4 tie at the half.     Jupiter came out flying in the third.  Cronin going through pretty much the entire Benjamin defense (which prompted the above comment on ball carrying) and getting off a low shot just 16 seconds in for 5-4.  Less than a minute later Gabriel was fed by Aranda with a skip pass to the top right side for the lengthy shot to the top left corner and at 10:33 Riley Linden made it 7-4 as he went down the right wing and found the low left, and it looked like Jupiter was taking control, as they had some good looks to make it an even bigger lead, but then the game turned again. At 7:39 of the third it was Griffin Bowie taking the Nicklaus feed from behind on the top right and his 12 yard bullet hit the top left corner for 7-5.  Nicklaus then curled from behind the right side and hit the top short side at 5:36 to make it 7-6.  The waived off goal followed soon after and then the unkindest cut of all for Jupiter as Cropp finished a left wing split dodge to tie it at 7 with just 1:02 left and Bowie hit what turned out to be the game winner with just 32 seconds left in the period as he curled from behind left. The fourth quarter might have been goal free but it certainly was pressure packed.  Jupiter dominated possession.  Outshot Benjamin 13-3 and Benjamin contributed 5 turnovers and 2 late penalties to Jupiter’s cause.  But Michels cane up huge, as did the Benjamin defense, which let no inside shot get off when man down late. Which leads to one other old truism that sometimes gets forgotten.  In big games like this, the more experienced team tends to find the way to win the one goal game and when you look at these rosters it’s easy to see which team that would favor. The Best Damn District Final . . . Period. Another night well spent for the sport.   Team Statistics   Faceoffs:  Benjamin 10-8 Shots:  Jupiter 40-23 Shots on Goal:  Jupiter 24-17 Turnovers:  Benjamin 18-12 Penalties:  Benjamin 4-2   Individual Statistics   Benjamin Will Nicklaus  2G/2A Blake Erdmann, Griffin Bowie and Christain Cropp with 2G each Michael Buttelman 1A Austin Michels with 17 saves   Jupiter Denver Aranda, Kenny Cronin and Tanner Gabriel with 1G/1A each Devon Rasmus, Chris Radice, Dylon Frankhouser and Riley Linden with 1G each Ethan Randell with 9 saves   thanks to Coach Rye and Coach Loftus for talking to me before and after the game.