Team Florida was back this year with several players who played in the Rising Stars division final at last year’s Tournament of Champions. They earned the fifth seed going into the play-off round. Their march to the semi’s started off with a 14-1 drubbing of the Central PA Dawgs. The quarter finals saw them win a close game against Charlotte’s Road Warriors 6-5.
The Semi-Final game was a match up against last year’s T.O.C. Elite level champions, the Kanienkehaka Krunch Elite team from Northern New York, which includes many of the top players from the Iroquois Community. The Krunch always draw big crowds at the T.O.C. as people love to see the insane stick skills, speed, and “ultra-aggressive” style of play.
The Krunch let Team Florida know they meant business right off the opening face-off as they scored the first goal in just a few seconds. They followed this up with three more early goals off of their high speed transition play and were up 4-0 at midway of the first half.
As the Krunch became more and more aggressive the flags began to fly. However, Team Florida’s normally sure EMO play sputtered, turning the ball over on shots several times, and the Krunch was able to add a man down goal to make it 5-0.
Things began to look up for Team Florida as Timber Creek’s Jake Rooney (Hofstra) scored a goal followed by Tampa Jesuit’s Ryan Brady making it 5-2.
The rest of the half was marked by lots of penalties on the Krunch but Team Florida could not convert due to Krunch’s smothering man down defense and some unforced turnovers. An additional man down goal ended the half at 6-2.
Team Florida began the second half with another EMO opportunity and RJ Curtain from St. Thomas Aquinas was able to make the most of it and close the gap to 6-3.
But the rest of the second half was all Krunch. Despite getting a player ejected for fighting, spending much of the game playing 6 vs. 5, 5 vs. 4, and a few non-releasable two minute penalties, the Krunch had enough speed to overcome some sloppy play. Lead by a scoring outburst from Dalston Day, the Krunch over powered Team Florida to win 12-4 and head to the finals for the second straight year.