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On a blistering hot July weekend in northern NJ, right in the heart of Lacrosse Mecca, a group of young men traveled from Florida to complete the unthinkable. An elite U13A Team comprised of 25 players from all over Florida ventured north to compete against the very best from Maryland and New York in the Tri State Summer Classic National Championship . Very few gave Florida’s sons any chance of winning against the best from the Northeast, including powerhouse Garden City, NY whose High School team just won Lax Power’s High School National Championship. The team from Florida completed round robin play on Friday and Saturday finishing a combined 5-0 including a thrilling overtime win against Garden City 7-6 and was the number two seed going into Sundays Championship Playoff round. In the quarter final round they drew The Georgia Thunder and quickly dispatched them 10-2. In the Semi-Final Round they faced Laxachussets from Boston and again with great passing and execution dominated the northeast team 11-3 to advance on to the finals. Although it was a great accomplishment for a team from Florida to make it to The National Championship Final, it was even more amazing to see a team from California, facing off against Florida. For the first time in the tournament’s history, neither New York or Maryland had a team in the Championship, shocking the lacrosse establishment. In a great game played by both teams Florida defeated California 10-4 to win the Tri State U13 A Summer Lacrosse Classic National Championship.
The U-19B started pretty slow, dropping their first two games. The team regrouped and defeated the top-ranked team on the bracket. Entering as the 3rd Seed, Team Florida defeated Team New Hampshire 8-1 and avenged a loss to Team Baggataway in the semi-final; an All-Star team from Downingtown and Conestoga, PA. In the Championship game, Team Florida scored early off a dodge by Tommy Higgins (Nease High School) and a man-up goal by Alek Schroeder (Bartram Trail). In the final 5 minutes; Team C4 (Long Island) scored two goals to tie the game and force overtime. The teams battled through 4 overtimes (yes, 4!) in the sweltering heat. Team Florida’s defense, led by goalie Austin Suarez (Bishop Verot) held wave after wave of C4 attack. In the waning seconds of the 4th OT, Suarez made a spectacular save and threw an outlet to John Grube (Episcopal), Grube hit Dalton Lemaster (Ponte Vedra) and Lemaster hit the streaking Schroeder. Schroeder rifled one of the C4 goalie’s shoulder for the TEAM FLO WIN!
Team Florida Coach Joe Cicarelli (Bartram Trail) said, “Our defense gelled as we progressed. Suarez was a rock in the Championship game and that’s how we help them in the OT periods.” Coach West (Ponte Vedra) was a bit more to the point: “Suarez saved our tail on OT. Our defense was solid and the offense got it done. Our boy’s did a great job of playing team defense and making things happen. Our attack is very unselfish and it was great to see Alek get two big goals for us.” Watching these boys throughout the weekend was a pleasure. They bonded, played for each other and represented Florida with pride.