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It’s Play-Off Time! Here’s a Round Up of the Central Bracket

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
Above photo courtesy of Enstone Images It’s that time of year! District play-offs are here and we are getting closer to the FHSAA State Championships in Jupiter.  Who’s it going to be?
Winter Park
Winter Park recently defeated Boone to win the Orange County Metro East Championship
The late addition of Winter Park to District 9 ruffled a few feathers this season but the Wild Cats went about their business of running away with it.  The Hagerty Huskies gave them the closest game during the regular season with a 13-5 final.  Winter Park should emerge from District 9 to play the winner of the Timber Creek vs Boone game.   Winter Park had a good 13-4 season but did not play a terribly difficult schedule.  The Wildcats just beat Boone to secure the Orange County Metro East Championship, which is as important to the Orange County Public Schools as a district championship.  Winter Park beat both Boone and Timber Creek during the regular season.
Timber Creek 2015
Timber Creek and Boone have a heated rivalry but Boone has had the upper hand recently. TC hasn’t beat the Braves since the regular season match up in 2014
District 10 is going to come down to an old and sometimes heated rivalry between Timber Creek and Boone.  Boone has had Timber Creek’s number the last several meetings and the guys at TC don’t like it at all.  With a talented outgoing group of seniors at TC look for them to leave it all on the field. Having been bested by Winter Park during the regular season whichever team comes out of this district is going to be looking for redemption in the next round.  In recent years the winner of this district only had a meeting with the juggernaut that was Lake Highland Prep to look forward to.   The new alignment opens the path for these teams to advance further down the line.
Plant v Newsome Carlson
Plant and Newsome are two of Tampa’s top teams
West Orange has historically won their district and then gone on to face Dr. Phillips in the next round.  Although they are favored to win this district again it’s not Dr. Phillips that awaits them, it’s the winner of the Lake Highland vs Bishop Moore game.  I will say that although and upset is unlikely, it would not shock me if Apopka or even Monteverde won this thing.  Apopka is 12-3 but did not have a challenging schedule.  They lost to West Orange 11-6 during the regular season and escaped Monteverde with by a three goal margin. Apopka has the most athletic goalie in Central Florida in Austin DeGross.  He is fun to watch and is a threat to run the ball down and score when he makes a save.  They also have a serous threat in face-off middie in Caleb Hippensteel.  The Blue Darters face an up and coming Monteverde team.  Coach Tony Williams has been building a serious contender over at Monteverde.  It may not be their time just yet but I believe they are coming.  With Jordan and Justin Williams working together and an athletic midfield they could make some noise this week. The winner goes onto play the top team in District 12.  While Lake Highland has had their share of struggles this season they are still the top threat to make it to Jupiter out of this bracket.  But you can be sure that Bishop Moore, who has had to deal with sharing a district with the perennial power house for the last several seasons, is going to try to seize their moment.  After beating Lake Brantley right after the Patriots upset LHP I thought they had a chance to knock off the champs.  But an 11-7 regular season loss to Highlanders may have taken some of the Hornet’s mojo.  I’m not really sure what to expect this week.  The Hornets have looked both invincible and vulnerable this season.  We’ll have to wait and see. Dr. Phillips is ten goals better than anyone else in District 13 this season.  The First Academy is normally a threat but they are down a little this year.  We expect Dr. Phillips to advance and the Panthers will be the point at which Central Florida Lacrosse meets Tampa area lacrosse. Tampa is home to the great unknown.  The teams all belong to HALAX and are obligated to play a ton of non-competivie games with little or no travel budgets.  So, as result, we don’t make too many trips to Tampa to see games.  District 14’s Newsome was last season’s Cinderella story reeling off 17 straight wins until they met up with Lake Highland.  They should still win this district but I’m calling a Newsome vs Dr. Phillips game a “pick ’em.”  One important note on District 14 is the growth of All Saints Academy.   In 2013 this was a two-win team.  This year they are 11-3 and the number two seed in their district.  These guys are the only FHSAA team in Polk County and they are coming.  Strength of schedule hurts them and I don’t think it’s their time yet, but keep an eye on that program. The team we think will emerge from Tampa this year is District 15’s Plant High School.  These guys are loaded with players like Bennet Taylor (West Point), Jackson Misner (USMMA), and a great goalie in Jack Schifino.  We just don’t see them play a strong enough schedule to know what they really have.  They won 13 games this season, only two of which were competitive at all.  One of those was a 13-9 win over Berkley Prep, who they need to beat again to get out of this district. Whichever team does make it out will run into the winner of Steinbrenner vs Wharton.  Steinbrenner took Plant to an OT win last week, which was surprising since Plant beat them 12-4 earlier in the season.  Wharton is a solid program with good history and although they dropped both regular season games to Steinbrenner one was a one goal game. This will be a great week of lacrosse in the Tampa area and we’ll see some really interesting second round match ups.  Overall, the Central Bracket is more interesting than ever due to Lake Highland’s 8-8 season.  The big question is, “who is ready to dethrone the champs and take their place in the Final Four?”  Trust me, it’s going to be a lot easier to talk about than to actually do it.