Thanks to Jeff Horwitz for the pictures!
As I went along the summer circuit down here more than one coach told me ‘look out for Douglas, they are beating everyone here’.
And last night it was easy to see why.
I have not yet seen Jupiter play and I am going to Gulliver today to see Ponte Vedra, but last night’s Stoneman performance was as good as any I’ve seen this season. Boca Raton is a young, rapidly improving team but Stoneman took control early, dominated faceoffs and possession, and just started pulling away late in the first period and never looked back.
Sometimes the easiest way to tell how good a game a road opponent played is to listen to the home crowd.
I’ve attended a LOT of Boca home games over the years and this was the quietest crowd of all. It wasn’t an angry crowd at their team. Boca didn’t play terribly, Stoneman just played really well and even the parents in the crowd could sense it. Stoneman plays a very tough schedule and their early losses were to Jupiter, St. Thomas and Saint Andrew’s. They still have left Lake Mary, Oxbridge, St. Edwards and Cardinal Gibbons. Recent wins are over Pine Crest and Gulliver Prep. Last year I watched Oxbridge really turn it on the second half of the season and this could be a similar thing this year. Boca is growing as a team too and they now finish with Jupiter, Benjamin, Oxbridge and Barron Collier . . . a combined 35-4 this season for those four teams . . . don’t be surprised if they take one of them down.
The game itself turned on possessions and much of that was SD’s senior FOGO Kevin Horwitz, who went 21 for 24 at the faceoff dot, many of them clean wins before the wing play got involved. It seemed that Boca had to play defense most of the period and according to my notes it was already 5 minutes into the game before Boca even had a chance to set up their offense in a settled situation. Those possessions added up to a 49-25 shot attempt differential. In the end Stoneman put more shots on net than Boca attempted.
Throw in that Stoneman’s offense was very patient on most of those possessions and Boca was worn down in the midfield particularly later in the game and their offense started to rush when they did have the ball and that ended up causing a low shooting percentage. And when Stoneman did look for fast breaks they were deadly in finishing, the passing crisp and fast. Another thing to like about the SD offense last night was the precise off ball movement that led to open looks from the cutters and how well those cutters finished. Combine that with Max Buckner spotting up on the left wing for step downs and you had the perfect mix last night.
Boca’s Spencer Dobkin again had a great game and kept the score within reason, as many of the saves were off inside shots. He’s really underappreciated in an area where there is a lot of goalies that are playing well without the fanfare. Goal scoring seems up this year and in many of the games I have seen the shot attempt numbers are rising and the goalies are having to play pretty well just to keep teams in games. Their statistics don’t necessarily look so great on paper but those in attendance can see the degree of difficulty of the shots the goalies are facing is definitely going up.
This entire season is really coming to an interesting conclusion over the next few weeks (hard to believe but we only have THREE MORE WEEKS to go until the regular season ends) and many of the top teams have back-loaded schedules, so we are going to see a LOT of big games down the stretch . . . unfortunately for me a number of them are on the SAME DAY . . . Oyyyyy.
If you are a lacrosse fan of the sport, not just of your team, you have a lot of games to pick from. Don’t be shy . . .
SD took the lead at 7:51 of the first as Sam Bailin found Buckner cutting to the crease from behind the net for the one timer and 1-0. Boca tied it up at 1-1 with 3:54 remaining as Matt Petrone found Mike Clinton on the low left wing from right GLE for the open net put back to finish off a fast break. SD responded twice in 29 seconds to make it 3-1. At 2:31 it was Tommy Frank finishing off a 3-2 fast break caused by a turnover at midfield, taking Bailin’s feed from the middle near the crease for the backhand shot and then Braden Mygatt went unassisted as he curled from left behind to find the low right corner of the net. SD then scored a backbreaker with 7 seconds left in the period as Daniel Sgammato found a loose ball of the scramble on the right side and he was able to walk in to the right alley for the short side shot to make it 4-1 after one.
SD continued the run with two more goals early in the second. First Mygatt again curled out from behind left for the low shot at 10:34 and then 22 seconds later Buckner found Adam Brodsky on the left side from right GLE and Brodksy spun right before hitting the low right corner for 6-1. The teams traded goals the rest of the half as Boca fought hard to stay within reach and Stoneman kept up the pressure. At 8:25 Logan Kigar was fed by Zach Frey on the 2-man EMO advantage from behind and he stepped down from top middle, hitting the low right side. Buckner got that back at 7:08 as he dodged from left wing to the middle, hitting the low left corner for 7-2. Boca cut it to 7-3 just 34 seconds later as Frey spun from 2 defenders and his left hand bullet hit the top short side, drawing the penalty too. But SD killed the penalty easily and that pretty much kept momentum from ever building for Boca and at 2:55 it was once again a 5-goal lead on the prettiest goal of the game, as Sgammato found Bailin on a perfectly timed feed from top left, as Bailin cut to the crease from right GLE and Bailin smoothly went behind the back for the finish. Boca then responded with 1:00 on the clock while short-handed, as Frey found Christian Eisenmann cutting down the middle and his left GLE feed gave Eisenmann the time to hit the low right corner for the 8-4 halftime score.
SD pretty much put it away in the third with the first three goals to stretch the lead to 7. Austin Figas, who once again showed how you can play a huge role on offense without it showing on the scorecard, as he face dodged from up top towards the right, and his rip hit the low left corner at 10:03 for his only point of the game. Figas just keeps it simple and he plays the role of making sure the offense keeps up tempo. The ball rarely stays in his stick for long and it’s hard for teammates of his to not follow his lead. For 3 years I’ve watched him do this and it never gets old. There used to be a term in sports called a player’s player, and it fits him very well. Very much like the role Grant Mahler played at SA a number of years ago.
Just 26 seconds later it was Sgammato unassisted, going to the right wing before firing to the low short side for 10-4 and at 7:21 it was Bailin finding Buckner on the cut down the middle for the low shot for 11-4. Marc Musa answered for Boca on the EMO at 6:16 on a pretty Frey feed from behind left as he found Musa on the far right for the short side look. Mygatt answered with 29 seconds left as he swim dodged from behind left and beat everyone to the front of the net for the easy score and it was 12-5 after three.
The teams traded goals in the first 20 seconds of the period as Horwitz was able to pop forward the clean win and he found Buckner on the left wing for the lengthy shot and then Frey was able to gain a wing faceoff win and he dashed towards the middle for the long right hand to the low left. Stoneman added two more at 6:51 and 4:22 and Boca added a goal in the last minute to end the scoring. Collin Bean made a tough catch in the middle and spun left to gain the middle, hitting the short side for 14-6. Buckner finished off Mygatt’s feed on the fast break for his 5th at 4:22 and Frey and Clinton teamed up for the last one, as Clinton found Frey with a lengthy skip pass for the short side shot to end the game.
Stoneman is back in action on Tuesday, traveling to Cardinal Gibbons in a Top 20 matchup and Boca travels to Jupiter on Tuesday for the start of their end of the season gauntlet.
Faceoffs: SD 21-3
Shots: SD 49-25
Shots on Goal: SD 27-11
Turnovers: BR 17-11
Penalties: SD 7-3
Max Buckner 5G/1A
Braden Mygatt 3G/1A
Daniel Sgammato 2G/1A
Sam Bailin 1G/3A
Tommy Frank, Adam Brodsky, Austin Figas and Collin Bean with 1G each
Ryan Ditsch with 4 saves
Zach Frey 3G/3A
Mike Clinton 1G/1A
Logan Kigar, Marc Musa and Christian Eisenmann with 1G each
Matt Petrone 1A
Spencer Dobkin with 11 saves
Thanks to Coach Holly and Coach Burton for talking to me before and after the game