Lax.com Rising HS Games of the Week: Feb. 20

With the 2017 scholastic lacrosse season off and running, we bring you the first edition of the Lax.com Rising HS Games of the Week. Every week throughout the high school season, Lax.com and 3d Rising will examine some of the most highly anticipated boys matchups taking place from coast to coast.

We kick it off with a look at some of the high profile matchups taking place in the handful of states that have taken the field already or begin play this week – primarily Florida, California and Texas.

Big games on tap include numerous heavyweight showdowns in the Sunshine State, as well as some of the first major contests of the year in Texas, NorCal and SoCal.

Be sure to follow Lax.com and 3d Rising throughout the spring for updates and action from fields all over the country. You can also get caught up on all of the Lax.com Rising HS Games of the Weeks at Lax.com.  

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Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) at IMG Academy (Fla.), Feb. 21

IMG Academy could be shaking up the Florida high school lacrosse like no other program in the past. The Ascenders for the first time have a FHSAA-eligible varsity team in addition to its national team, and both squads feature regarded Division I recruits. The varsity squad – already 4-0 on the year – takes on Lake Highland in an anticipated meeting between a traditional power and one that expects to be a regular contender. This is also the first meeting of these teams. Lake Highland is looking to rebound, coming off a 16-9 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.), the Highlanders’ first of the year.

Oxbridge Academy (Fla.) at St. Andrew’s (Fla.), Feb. 21

This is the old veteran versus the young up-and-comer. Oxbridge Academy is in its fifth season as a program and comes off a huge year in which they defeated St. Andrew’s 8-7 in the playoffs. The Thunderwolves were dealt a 16-11 loss by the IMG Academy varsity team on Feb. 14, but responded with a 7-6 victory over Jupiter on Feb. 16 to move to 3-1. St. Andrew’s opened the year with in-state wins over American Heritage, Stoneman Douglas, St. Edward’s and Benjamin School. Senior Tito Thompson totaled 10 points through the first two games of the year, including a four assist, one-goal night against Douglas.

Lake Highland Prep (Fla.) at Lake Mary (Fla.), Feb. 24

2016 was not necessarily Lake Highland’s year. After winning three straight Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) titles, the Highlanders slipped to 12-9 last season. But despite the record, LHP reached the state Final Four and anticipates returning in 2017. The Highlanders started the year with two wins, but were forced to cancel a scheduled meeting against Ponte Vedra (Fla.) on Feb. 10. A 16-9 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) on Feb. 17 put the Highlanders into the loss column for the first time this year, and LHP still has to face IMG Academy before even contemplating Lake Mary. Lake Mary won four straight to start the year and now faces a challenging stretch. It starts with the Lake Highland game and continues on with St. Thomas Aquinas (Fla.) and Georgia power Lovett.

Loyola-Los Angeles (SoCal) vs. St. Margaret’s Episcopal (SoCal), Feb. 25

Another season-opener between power programs kicks off the first Lax.com Rising HS Games of the Week. The Cubs won this meeting last year 9-7 and went on to win both the LA/Ventura and Southern CIF titles. Tufts commit Joe Theuer returns in goal for Loyola and he should help anchor a defense that allowed 10 or more goals in just two games last year. St. Margaret’s finished as the Orange County CIF runner-up last season. Odd years seem to be the Tartans’ time. They won at least 14 games in 2011, 2013 and 2015. In 2013 and 2015, they won at least 20 – a significant improvement over their 2012 (11 wins) and 2014 (9 wins) seasons.

San Ramon Valley (NorCal) at St. Ignatius Prep (NorCal), Feb. 25

The first game of the year for both power programs is a doozy. Last year, St. Ignatius won the meeting 9-5 and enters 2017 with an eight-game winning streak carrying into the season. The game has a set of star players, including an assortment of Division I-bound student-athletes on each team. St. Ignatius boasts midfielder Bryn Evans (Harvard) and defenseman Hall Peters (Virginia). SRV has senior defender Joe Carrington (UNC) returning to a team that went 12-9 last season. Both teams are deep with talent down into the younger graduation classes.

Dallas Jesuit (Texas) at Westlake (Texas), Feb. 25

The Rangers are the defending Texas High School Lacrosse League (THSLL) Division I champion and they finished the 2016 season winning their final six games. They opened the year with a 14-5 win over Allen (Texas), but then were upended 11-9 by The Woodlands (Texas) for an early-season loss. Westlake kicked off the season with a brutal schedule and currently sits at 1-1. The Chapparals opened the year with a tough 9-6 win over St. Mark’s (Texas), then were defeated by powerhouse Highland Park (Texas) 12-3. Both teams look to rebound in this key matchup. Senior Daniel Burnum (Sewanee) and junior David Sprock (Virginia) each scored three goals in Jesuit’s season-opening win against Allen. Senior goalie Luke Millican (UNC) made 14 saves in the victory. Westlake junior midfielder Tate Young (Penn) is one of the state’s top players.

3d Rising Staff reports are completed by working with our network of scouts, which includes former and current coaches and players, who attend lacrosse events across the country.