Florida State Championships 2016: Ponte Vedra, St. Thomas Aquinas Advance
3d Rising continues its mission to scour the high school and prep school lacrosse landscape this season, with our most recent stop being Jupiter, Florida, where the Florida High School Athletic Association is holding its state championships.
We, along with a big crowd on hand, were treated to two excellent games, both an indication of the high level of talent being cultivated and solid coaching taking place in the Sunshine State.
The first contest saw undefeated Ponte Vedra take down powerhouse Lake Highland Prep 16-11. Using a second half surge, the Sharks overcame a 6-5 halftime deficit with run that included five-straight goals in the final three minutes of the third quarter. That included a couple from face-off midfielder Andrew O'Dare (Towson), who provided a big jolt by winning consecutive draws in a flurry in the second half and pushed transition. He was one of four players for Ponte Vedra registering three goals in the win. Clay Welch (Binghamton), Reid Smith (Delaware) and Matt Keeler (Jacksonvile) each scored three times. Sophomore netminder Wyatt Schupler was fantastic in cage, turning away 16 shots. The Ponte Vedra crowd was alive throughout the game, chanting "JM Strong," in support of John Michael Knight, a lacrosse player and friend of the program who recently suffered a stroke and has been battling to get back on the lacrosse field.
Jackson Colling (Boston University) led Lake Highland Prep with three goals and an assist, while Christain Cisneros put up two goals and two assists in the loss.
We caught up with Tom West, Ponte Vedra's head coach, after the game. You can see that interview here.
After watching the first semi, it was a quick turnaround for the second: a meeting between another Florida power program -- St. Thomas Aquinas -- and a program on the rise, the Benjamin School. It was an unbelievable turn of events in this contest, as the Raiders and the Bucs went back and forth, literally, with lead changes throughout the game, and an incredible pace that carried right into overtime, then double overtime, and then triple overtime.
It was midfielder Joey Guglielmo who stuck the game winner in the third extra frame, splitting to his left and hitting a jump shot to the top shelf with just seven seconds left on the clock. One of the best games we've seen this year, both netminders stood on their heads, especially in the extra frame. Austin Michaels recorded 13 saves for Benjamin, including four across the three overtimes. St. Thomas Aquinas keeper Mikey Adler (St. Joseph's) recorded 11 saves, including two in the overtime periods. Leading the way for the Raiders on offense was Guglielmo, who had three goals and an assist. Nick Yovino (Furman) finished with three goals, but added some huge plays in the overtime frames, including a strip and groundball that turned out to be key. Kevin Crowley (Hofstra) finished with two goals and two assists. Benjamin was led by Colin O'Hare (Ohio State), who scored four goals and added an assist. See the game winner below.
Additionally, we caught up with Raiders head coach Terry Crowley after the game. Watch the interview below. Check out action shots above.
Saturday night brings the Florida state championship. Both Ponte Vedra and St. Thomas Aquinas are undefeated, at 23-0 and 18-0, respectively.
Results, stats and more can be found at the FHSAA site: http://www.fhsaa.org/sports/lacrosse.