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The Other Side of The Coin – Coral Springs Charter Pulls Away in the 4th to Beat John I Leonard 13-7

Written by Lee Roggenburg on . Posted in .
photo via the Palm Beach Post I promised myself that if I could I would cover a John I Leonard game this season.  At first the STA – Stoneman game was scheduled for Friday and it was going to be a televised event but that was moved to Thursday so that conflict was gone.  There was the annual Saint Andrew’s – Boca Raton slugfest also on Friday so the decision wasn’t easy, but I’ve done enough of that game in past years and JIL doesn’t have a lot of games scheduled.  Frankly I was also worried about a blow out, which didn’t happen, as Boca gave SA all they could handle, leading 7-6 at the half, before SA rallied for the 12-8 victory. But I don’t regret the decision. Long-time readers remember the Coral Springs Charter story I wrote about in their first year.  A program started by a freshman goalie who persuaded the school to let them start a program if the school didn’t have to chip any money in.  A head coach who was the goalie’s father and who had no experience with the sport.  And now the program is starting to get serious.  A new coach with a lacrosse background in Andy Groothuis, a Long Island born and bred coach.  Now let’s see how they progress over time. And there is JIL. Two years ago I called out their administration about putting resources into the program or closing it up.  The team had not won a game in their history as far as I could research. Last year they got close in their last game, going down by 2 at Atlantic High-Delray. And this year they gave St. Brendan a run before falling 8-4. The administration might have listened a little after being called out.  Last season they hired Jeffrey Peters as head coach.  Coach Peters has the pedigree.  Massapequa High School (here that Terry?) . . . Cortland State . . . and importantly, an Islander fan.  Lots in common with me.  And has the right attitude.  Teach the sport and make it fun.  No other way to do this here.  Almost his entire team is minority.  Haitian, African-American, Latino.  22 players on the roster and ALL of them right handed.  2 seniors, 4 juniors, 11 sophs and 5 frosh.
Author’s Note: Props also to the Benjamin lacrosse team and their community . . . when there was an equipment shortage at JIL they provided a lot of the equipment and support the school needed to compete . . . thanks Coach Rye and the rest of them!
None of them have ever won a varsity lacrosse game.  And not knowing their club team status of the players it’s possible none of them have ever tasted victory in an official game. Yet there they were Friday night, playing their hearts out.  And even as a journalist there was a sense of hope in me.  After the 3rd period I texted Wells to let him know it was a one-goal game and that JIL was playing well. Unfortunately it didn’t happen. But I want to let the JIL players know that they gave me a real thrill last night . . . and just as importantly let them know that all of us in the Lacrosse community are rooting for them to get that win. No matter how long it takes. I won’t be calling on the JIL administration anymore. Keep working hard . . . listen to your Coach . . . and never let anyone tell you you’re not good enough. I’d also like to note that a number of the JIL Girls team hung around to watch the game too.  I want to congratulate them not only for that but for also facing adversity as a program and continuing the good fight.  According to my research they have not won a game since March 16th, 2012, if the LaxPower database is complete.  Wouldn’t it be great if the two teams won their next game the same day?   Unfortunately for JIL, a game like this comes down to an opponent that has a few top notch players that can take over a game like this and that is exactly what happened in this one.  The game was 8-7 CSC heading into the fourth quarter and that was when CSC’s Mitchell Bertazon and Devon Shelton combined for 5 of the 10 total goals they combined for to put the game away, as JIL ran out of gas.  Fortunately for CSC neither is a senior so they can look forward to this happening a few other times over the next one-plus seasons.  They displayed a chemistry that shows the difference between athleticism and lacrosse IQ.  Not that they weren’t athletic.  Bertazon in particular proved a handful for JIL’s defense as he was able to split the defense multiple times and scored a few lengthy dashes to goal.  But when the game was on the line the teamwork came to the fore.  3 of the 5 4th quarter goals was assisted by the other. And that was the difference in the game. On the JIL side the only player with an assist (3 of them) was Julian Perez, as the other JIL goals were individual efforts, mostly by Kervensley Devert and Jeffery Tinsley.  One player who caught my eye but didn’t get on the score sheet was Sebastian Beaudoin, who played a tough, solid game between the lines, winning a number of 50/50 groundballs and playing a very good defensive middie role.  Undersized for that task he stuck his nose into the fray and displayed a knack that makes me wonder if he had gotten more guidance over the off season how well he would have developed.  Props as well to the JIL faceoff group, who went 18 of 28 on the night.  Beaudoin was a major factor in that too.   The game opened with a 4-0 run by CSC and it looked like it wasn’t going to be a game.  At 10:20 Bertazon found Justin Aurora up the left wing from low left and his step down went low for the 1-0 lead.  Just 41 seconds later Bertazon face dodged on the low left wing to the middle and his right hand found the left side hip high for 2-0.  At 5:10 Bertazon took advantage of a turnover at midfield he weaved his way through the defense down the middle before finishing with the right hand low to the left, while drawing a penalty on the play.  At 4:20 CSC took advantage on the EMO as JIL goalie Marlon Vasquez, who played a really gutsy game in goal with 14 saves, many with the body, was stripped on the clear, and Patrick Heekin took advantage to pot the easy empty netter for 4-0. With less than 2 minutes to go in the period JIL came storming back with 2 goals in 40 seconds.  First Perez dodged from the last wing to the middle and his right hand went low at 1:44 and that was followed by Devert splitting the defense from up top and finding the high corner for 4-2.  CSC stretched it back to 5-2 with 13 seconds left as Heekin fed Shelton up top from behind and his step down low shot beat Vasquez. The game settled down in the second as both Vasquez and CSC goalie Frankie Tabino, who also made 14 saves, got dialed in and it wasn’t until 2:32 was left that JIL broke through, as Tinsley scored twice in 27 seconds to cut the lead to 5-4.  His first was solo as he dodged to the middle from the left wing, hitting the low left corner, and at 2:05 Perez fed Tinsley in front from behind the net for the low left shot and suddenly it was a game.  Just 13 seconds later Bertazon won the ground ball battle off the faceoff wing and he went down the middle, splitting the defense and finding the low left corner for 6-4 but with only 28 seconds to go in the half Perez found Jadiel Dejesus on the crease from right GLE for the one-timer and it was 6-5 at the half. Were the Lacrosse Gods stirring in their sleep? Just 17 seconds into the third JIL tied the game up as Devert worked from the top left to the middle and his 10-yard bounce shot found net to make it 6-6, and I was stirring myself. CSC did not lay down and at 5:21 Shelton was able to walk in from up top and get off the hard shot between the legs of Vasquez for 7-6 and at 3:32 Anthony Tardago found Roberto Henao low on the wing and his turnaround shot found the short side for 8-6.  But with 17 seconds left in the third JIL took advantage of the EMO as Perez found Kiven Austin in the middle from right GLE and he shot to the low left corner for 8-7 after three. And that’s when I texted Wells, hoping I was seeing history. Unfortunately it was not to be as JIL ran out of gas and CSC’s duo took over the game.  Three quick goals to open the fourth took all the wind out of the sails for JIL and CSC coasted to the 13-7 win.  All 5 goals by Bartazon and Shelton, feeding each other.  At 11:16 it was Bartazon to Shelton and at 10:18 they reversed it.  At 9:20 it was Bartazon unassisted on EMO.  Bartazon to Shelton at 6:24 and at 3:22 it was Heekin feeding Shelton to close it out. Top players closing out a game when it counted. And history-making went back into the vault, waiting to be awoken another time. Funny how a Friday night game among two teams well down the ranks of Florida lacrosse could have given me such a fun night. Thanks kids!   Team Statistics Faceoffs:  JIL  18-10 Shots:  CSC  47-34 Shots on Goal:  CSC  27-21 Turnovers:  JIL  22-18 Penalties:  CSC  4-2   Individual Statistics   CSC Mitchell Bertazon and Devon Shelton  5G/2A each Patrick Heekin  1G/2A Justin Aurora and Roberto Henao  1G each Anthony Tardago  1A Frankie Tabino with 14 saves   JIL Kervensley Devert and Jeffery Tinsley  2G each Julian Perez  1G/3A Jadiel DeJesus and Kiven Austin  1G each Marlon Vasquez with 14 saves   Thanks to Coach Peters and Coach Groothuis for talking to me before and after the game