Now we’re down to eight teams and the following matchups . . .
I’d review the previous predictions but somehow misplaced them . . . and I still have to eat lunch at some point today without getting sick
Okay . . . here’s a potential recipe:
. . . best I could find that you can try at home without me offending PETA . . .
Well, we’re down to this . . . rankings from the regular season final poll
Bolles Travels to #16 Lake Mary
#20 Berkeley Prep Travels to #9 LHP
#11 Barron Collier Travels to #4 Benjamin . . . well, sort of . . . Jupiter High School will host
Gulliver Prep Travels to #1 St. Thomas Aquinas
Two unranked teams making it to this round is not really unprecedented.
7 of the 8 have been here before and for most it’s been many times. Berkeley is the only newcomer.
But don’t let that fool you.
For three 1-goal losses it would have been:
Bolles vs Lake Mary
Berkeley Prep vs Bishop Moore
Riverview-Sarasota vs Benjamin
Belen Jesuit vs St. Thomas
That’s a whole different ball game.
And the letter B would have been missing in supply stores across the state . . .
But the fact that there are some new names in that possible group is a great sign of what is possible in this state.
I wonder if Captain Picard enjoys lacrosse . . .
I have to be honest and think that the northern half of the bracket is more intriguing to me. I’ve seen 6 of the teams this season and Bolles and Berkeley are the two I missed. And since they don’t play each other that makes it tougher on me to think them through.
Bolles vs Lake Mary
Bolles is the single toughest team for me to decipher based on their record this year. They were a 10-9 team last season that has grown to 14-7 after finishing 10-7 before District. A few impressive wins and a few losses that were not expected. They score at a pretty good clip but also have shown they can give up a lot of goals too. Not too consistent until the playoff season. One thing to note is that they hosted their first two FHSAA games and need to travel for this one.
Lake Mary has run hot and cold at times too but against a fuller schedule. In their last nine games they went 7-2 with both losses being one goal games. And only one of those was against a team with a losing record. They already own wins over PV, Stoneman, Hagerty, West Orange and Nease. Their comeback against PV from a 5-goal deficit was one of the performances of the year in the state.
Home field should be pretty good and it looks like FLN’s Seth Austin will be in attendance to cover it.
Prediction: Lake Mary will prevail at home and move on to Jupiter with the win.
Berkeley Prep vs Lake Highland Prep
I’ll stay away from the easy Prep jokes. Partly because I don’t know any off the top of my head.
Berkeley Prep makes their first appearance in this round and a lot of times that’s a problem given that the pressure gets ramped up the further you go in this tournament. Again, having never seen them makes me skittish. Not counting IMG, Berkeley is on a 12-game winning streak and the results have gotten better as they go along, so that’s in their favor. With the exception of the Plant playoff win a lot of their scores have been remarkably similar . . . not really sure that means anything but what the heck.
Across the field will be an LHP team that has been acting like the old St. Louis Cardinals . . . the football one (yes kids, there was a St. Louis Cards NFL team too!) that earned the nickname the Cardiac Cardinals. Of course Cardiac Highlanders doesn’t sound as good but the game is the same. 3 goals in the last four minutes against Hagerty to overcome the 7-6 deficit. OT win over Bishop Moore after scoring the tying goal with 24 seconds to go in regulation (the second time they scored a last minute goals against BM this season to pull out a one goal win).
Just finding a way to win right now. Based on what I saw earlier in the season this might well be head coach Chris Spaulding’s finest year. The only real takeaway from the late season scores is that the offense has found it’s rhythm but that’s even a bit of a stretch by me. There’s been a lot of goal scoring all year.
Prediction: At some point the Tampa area will win one of these Final 8 matchups with the Orlando representative but given Berkeley is in their first foray here I’ll go with the more experienced team to prevail, so LHP will make their way through to face LM in a rematch from the 2015 semifinals.
Barron Collier vs. Benjamin (This will be my coverage game)
Barron Collier will have to travel quite a distance from Naples for this game to Jupiter High (Benjamin has moved this game from JCP) and that can’t help. Figure almost three hours. BC has had a marvelous season with their 19-1 record. Their schedule looks better now than it did earlier in the season. Goal scoring has been no problem and their defense is very solid too. Their biggest challenge is that they now have to face one of the hottest teams in the state after that long trip.
Benjamin again has come on strong this season and their results tended to improve as the games went by. There have been some games where goals against were an issue and all three losses were in games they gave up double digits. The offense is strong and consistent and experienced.
Prediction: I see a chance for Barron Collier to win this but it would require a lot of possessions and a higher scoring game. Benjamin has cut down on goals against quite a bit and their offense can also lengthen possessions when needed. This game should be closer than it looks going into it but I see Benjamin prevailing in the end.
Gulliver vs St. Thomas Aquinas (Wells will be at this game and will also be covering the Girls’ game too)
This is the easiest game to predict today.
Gulliver has really scrambled this season to get to this position and deserves kudos for it. But until their last game they had not won a game against a ranked team all year and now they have to face an STA team fresh off an incredible effort, on the road. There’s just not a lot of statistics that show they can make this a game.
St. Thomas is on a roll right now and there’s nothing more to say.
Prediction: STA comfortably pulls away, setting up the dynamic rematch with Benjamin in the Final Four. Could we see 3OT’s yet again?
Fans, in all these areas . . . get out to the game!
I need to lose a little weight.
Update: I did actually search for Prep jokes but didn’t find any worth it . . . but did find some fun with the Duke-Yale NCAA tourney game from last year . . .