This one is fraught with peril.
I’ve only seen four of the Final 8 teams this year.
No Maclay, no Ponte Vedra, no Plant and no Barron Collier
And I haven’t seen Lake Highland for quite some time.
But that’s why they pay me the big bucks . . .
Actually the denomination is more like Lira.
Not too many of those either.
Got a free breakfast recently . . .
Just trying to milk this a little.
From the North on down . . .
#9 Maclay Hosts #2 Ponte Vedra at 7:00pm
Maclay comes in at 17-3 with the losses 11-7 at IMG, 11-7 at home to Ponte Vedra and a head scratching 11-5 loss at Fleming Island while Ponte Vedra has run the table so far this season at 21-0.
Pretty simple formula . . . give up 11 goals and lose. Well, that’s coincidence, not correlation.
But this is some truth to the issue of goals against for Maclay. In no other game this season did they give up more than 7 goals and that is the way they like to play.
Ponte Vedra has not been held below double digits all season long.
Therefore we have the simple fact of one of those two givens falling. Unless Ponte Vedra wins an 8-7 game . . .
This is a young PV team and the win over LHP was a long time ago. These teams pretty much played similar schedules. Maclay actually played more District 6 games in the regular season than Ponte Vedra did due to the Fleming home and home.
The fact PV has already played at Maclay this year is pretty important for their kids as they won’t have an issue with a new environment.
I don’t think there are going to be many surprises in this one so it comes down to one simple thing.
If Ponte Vedra gets out to a lead early they should win this game. Maclay needs to keep it slow and close as they can’t match firepower. Their best chance is to stretch possession and hope that a young, high-powered PV attack gets impatient and shows their age.
But I am going with PV to win this game in a similar score to their regular season matchup. By 3-4 goals.
#8 Plant hosts #6 Lake Highland Prep at 7:00pm
Wow, is this the ultimate tough to know or what for me?
The paradigm for a number of years now is “Lake Highland starts the season slower and builds towards the Final Four run’. Not too hard to see that the last three years.
This is just not your typical LHP team. They have yielded double digits in goals ELEVEN times this year while going 11-8 on the season.
In the district final they trailed Bishop Moore by 5 goals in the third before rallying. In their last game they yielded seven first half goals to Hagerty before pulling away in the second half. This looks to me like a team where their second half offense has been able to mask some clear defensive issues.
That’s a recipe for a disaster somewhere along the line.
But there is absolutely no comparison between the schedules these two teams played. NONE.
That’s good and bad if you are Plant. You are 17-1 with the schedule you were dealt, and the only loss was to IMG, not an FHSAA opponent. I only wished I had seen them once, it could have really made me comfortable with what I am thinking.
I’m just getting one of those feelings.
LHP beats them easily . . . or Plant pulls the huge upset. I don’t think there will be a middle ground on this one.
At the risk of looking completely stupid I am going to predict that LHP’s sloppy season comes back to bite them and we see an enormous upset as the home team makes history.
#10 Benjamin hosts Barron Collier at 7:00pm
Of all the games I think this is the most likely to be an easier win. Barron Collier has taken advantage of a down year in the Southwest but has shown an uncharacteristic tendency to yield a lot of goals to their tougher opponents and Benjamin is lighting it up offensively right now (don’t be fooled by the scores, Benjamin has been coasting offensively in second halves recently).
In short, this is a bad matchup for Barron Collier.
Both played excellent schedules but Benjamin has signature wins while Barron does not.
And the games Barron lost were not competitive.
This is the easiest to predict for me as this is a transition year for BC and Benjamin wins this by at least 6 goals to move on.
#13 Gulliver Prep hosts #2 St. Thomas Aquinas at 3:00pm
This is a rematch of a game I covered at STA earlier this year with STA pulling away to win 15-7.
STA has run the table so far, going 16-0 and Gulliver has an experienced team that went 16-3 with the other losses being to Stoneman Douglas and Ponte Vedra.
One factor to consider is that last year STA manhandled Gulliver in the second round 21-8, so they already made up 5 goals this season, if that means much.
The game will be played at 3:00pm which will help Gulliver as they have played mostly day games while STA loves the night.
STA certainly received a scare against Oxbridge . . . okay, a lot more than a scare.
But everytime they needed to reach down the last two years they came up with it with the one exception.
I think the game will play out close in the first half and even into the third but the offensive firepower of STA will make the difference in the second half and they will win by 5-6 goals. Gulliver’s best chance is to get a lead in the second half and be able to run clock as their great strength is the ability to control tempo with their passing game.
No matter what, local lacrosse fans need to get out and support the teams!
And please, lay off the ref baiting . . .