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Lee’s Top 10 Florida Lacrosse Stories Of 2016

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
  What a year this was for the sport in the state of Florida this year . . . I can’t summarize it so easily in a year-end review so I went with this format for 2016. Hope you enjoy it! And all complaints can be sent to Brian . . . If I missed something you think should be included just submit the comment below . . . I could have gone further.   Of course I’ll need some introductory theme music for this . . .     So, without further ado . . .   #10 – Top level Division One college lacrosse on the Men’s side comes to South Florida as the oldest rivalry in the sport played its’ first game outside New York as Hobart and Cornell played for the 132nd time in Palm Beach County . . . okay, you knew this writer had to sneak that one in.  Hobart went on to win the NEC title and make the NCAA play-in game.     #9 – High school programs in less advantaged areas starting to break through.  Nothing signifies that more than Immokalee’s winning record and Plantation gaining 4 wins on the season.  Add to that the rise of programs like Belen Jesuit and H.B. Plant and a bunch of others who are taking the necessary steps to compete.  And we should also mention Carlos Clavijo of St. Brendan for his production as a goal scoring machine.           #8 – Ponte Vedra’s rise and their sweep of Lake Highland Prep in the regular season and the FHSAA semifinals.  Finally climbing that mountain and putting the old bugaboo to bed.     #7 – Casey Powell ending his glorious career in a Florida Launch uniform, with our fans being witness to his final game.  And he never failed to make time to talk to a young fan, no matter where or when.     #6 – The continued growth of the impact of Florida kids at the next level, both men and women.  Sergio Salcido and Sam Talkow garnering All-American honors.  Salcido’s story is very inspiring given he was not the most regarded recruit but through perseverance he made himself a very important piece of a traditional powerhouse.  Olivia Ferrucci starting for North Carolina as a frosh until her season-ending injury.  Conor Whipple driving Tampa to another NCAA berth and Matt Bellando with LIU-Post doing the same.  Parker Giarratana winning the MAAC Rookie of the Year.  And we’re only just scratching the surface.  Just looking at the recruiting class just graduated shows a terrific amount of Florida kids that will likely make an impact early in their college careers.  Yovino, Scheele, Bernhardt, Colling and Diamond will all likely be impact players immediately, among others.           #5 – Lake Brantley’s Jared Bernhardt named the MVP of the 2016 World U-19 championship, leading the USA to a come from behind thriller over Canada for the title.     #4 – The absolutely incredible series of games in the FHSAA playoffs.  I was witness to Oxbridge’s stunning first round take down of Saint Andrew’s, the similarly scintillating second round OT match with St. Thomas edging Oxbridge and a whole series of other marvelous games.     #3 – St. Thomas Aquinas and Benjamin playing arguably the greatest FHSAA playoff game of all time before STA took the triple OT game.  Combine that with the FHSAA final as Coach Terry Crowley finally gets his gold ring, edging out Tom West’s Ponte Vedra squad in a matchup of two undefeated teams coached by long time pursuers of a state championship . . . I’m still able to watch that highlight film without getting tired of it.            #2 – The stunning year of the Women’s game in the state.  Caitlyn Wurzburger’s incredible year as an 8th grader who might well make history down the line at the national level, as she hit the unthinkable 100G/100A accomplishment.  STA’s Madison Cunningham named to the UnderArmour game.           And finally the ending of THE STREAK as Bartram Trail plays pretty much the perfect game and a whirling dervish named Alexis Marcionette sent home the OT winner to knock off Vero Beach.     #1 – As much as the great stories wrote themselves there is clearly one story that sits atop all the others . . . Florida Southern bringing home the first NCAA lacrosse title in the state’s history, with their remarkable playoff run ending up with the Division II national championship win over Adelphi.  Congrats to Coach Kara Reber and her staff for taking down the lacrosse equivalent of the glass ceiling for the state of Florida!     What can we expect for an encore in 2017? Can’t wait to see . . .