St. Thomas Aquinas Gearing Up For Playoffs With 19-13 Win Over Milton (Ga.)

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Gearing up for the homestretch and the playoffs, St. Thomas Aquinas got a total of 13 goals and 7 assists from RJ Curtin, Alex Tumminello, Louis Yovino and Dillon LaGamma to pull away in the second quarter, en route to a strong 19-13 win over visiting Georgia powerhouse Milton Saturday afternoon at Brian Piccolo Stadium. The first three quarters were played at breakneck speed as both teams were happy to go up and down the field. Milton came into the game fresh off a 10-8 win over Florida #7 Gulf Coast the previous night and looked to extend their Florida Top 10 streak to 2 and played a brisk first quarter that ended with them leading 6-5.  But STA took control of the game with a 7-1 second quarter and never looked back.

For those fans who appreciate ‘run and gun’ lacrosse, this one was for you.

For those fans who appreciate high heat, this one was for you.

For those fans who appreciate fearless forays through the heart of the defense, this one was for you.

For those fans who appreciate the defensive tenacity and smart transition positioning by the defense . . .

You picked the wrong game.

But you were still highly entertained.

53 shots on goal.  Many of them uncontested.  21 saves.

Pretty much sums it all up nicely.

The two teams likely had one thing in common . . . this game was all about getting ready for the playoffs if you are STA Coach Crowley and somewhat similar for Milton Coach Dell, who only has three more Georgia opponents left while also looking forward to interstate games with Charlotte Latin (NC), Memphis University School (TN) and tonight’s tilt at Jupiter.

Coach Crowley is in a somewhat unusual position this late in the season as he has to take a shorter-term view than most of the coaches who believe they have a legitimate shot to make a long run in the playoffs.  Because some of his top offensive players missed much of the season he needs to balance getting them ready and in game shape versus not exposing his team to a possible late-season injury.  Coach Loftus at Jupiter also has that problem but I can’t really think of anyone else who does.  And that adds a little more intrigue as the playoffs loom.

I’m going to dispense with the goal by goal recap this time.

32 goals were scored.  Many of them just too easy.  Just some observations.

Milton’s Nick Newell and Chad Tolliver can really rip it.  So can STA’s Louis Yovino and Alex Tuminello.

Tuminello struggled the last time I saw him, against Columbus Catholic.  He tried to do way too much with the ball.  In this game he played off-ball a lot more and found a home on the left wing.  I suggest that he marks the spot on the field with a little bit of spray paint and remembers to find that spot a couple of times a game as he found the cage multiple times on way to a 4G/2A.  Looks like he realized that he needed to tone down his dodging.  That bodes well for STA in the playoffs.

Yovino has developed very nicely this year and is probably the biggest beneficiary of the early season injuries as it gave him playing time that would have been less; certainly he would not have carried the ball as much.  Again, another good sign for STA going forward.

The defense played short-handed but that doesn’t excuse the issues with transition at this point in the season.  Definitely something to work on.

One thing I found very impressive about Milton was how quickly they could go from defense to offense, particularly off turnovers.  A number of times they were able to set up odd man rushes because they quickly established good spacing and fast ball movement to take advantage of the turnover.  They caught STA’s midfield a couple of times with quick, short passes that established the odd man.

And did I say 19 and 3 could really rip it?  Just wanted to say that again.

Milton was able to get within three twice in the third quarter but no closer.  STA would put together their own mini run both times and pulled away in the fourth.  The game was won in the second.  Take that period away and each team scores 12.  If it had gone to overtime it wouldn’t have lasted more than 30 seconds.

RJ Curtin is rapidly getting his game in order.  Even though the stats were a little below the CC game, he played a lot more under control this game and his crease feeds were better decisions.  Last game he got away with a couple of questionable ones.

Again, a good sign for the playoffs.

At last year’s All-American dinner I gave Coach Crowley a mini heart attack when I told him I might rank his team in the Top 3 in the pre-season poll.  He thanked me . . . well, sarcastically at least.

He might still prove me right.

 

Scoring by Quarter:

 

1st – Milton 6-5

2nd – STA 12-7

3rd – STA 16-11

4th – STA 19-13

 

Individual Scorers

 

Alex Tuminello (STA)  4G/2A

RJ Curtin (STA)  3G/3A

Dillon LaGamma (STA)  3G/2A

Nick Newell (MN)  4G

Louis Yovino (STA)  3G

Alex Cumella (STA)  2G/1A

Chad Toliver and Charlie Gallagher (MN)  2G each

Evan Shimek (STA), Hunter Sanna (MN) and Justin Newell (MN)  1G/1A each

Jimmy Harrington (ST), Sam Khalil (STA), Revin Koss (STA), Cory Amick (MN) and Austin Hawks (MN)  1G each

Cole Houghton (MN) and Jake Jenkins (MN)  1A each

 

STA goalies Ben Tobin and Mike Adler combined for 10 saves while Milton goalie Andrew Sackellares made 11 saves

 

Thanks to Coaches Crowley and Dell for spending time with me before and after the game and good luck to both teams in their quest for state gold!

 

PS – will someone from St. Thomas PLEASE send me some new pictures!!!