Sharp readers will note that I did not use the Florida Lacrosse Showcase moniker and there’s a fairly simple reason for that . . . it occurred Sunday!
We hope to have a press release from this week to share with you how the event went.
Well, another GREAT year in the books and what it comes down to is pretty simple.
Lacrosse is one great sport!
And definitely, for many reasons, #LacrossePutMyButtInThisSeat!
And nearly 3,000 MORE.
Congratulations to all 8 teams that made it to Championship Weekend!
Hagerty and Lake Highland and Vero Beach and American Heritage-Delray
Ponte Vedra, Bishop Moore, Saint Andrew’s and Jupiter
Lions and Tigers and Bears, oh my!
Well, none of those . . .
Huskies and Highlanders and Indians and Stallions
Sharks and Hornets and Scots and Warriors
I guess when we get bigger as a sport there might be some cultural appropriation complaints . . .
The British Isles might be particularly touchy, as well as animal rights activists and Michael Beck . . .
Michael Beck is now 69 years old . . . time flies
First let’s all congratulate the Jupiter Warriors and the American Heritage-Delray Stallions for winning the FHSAA State Championships . . . and both are FIRST TIME WINNERS.
Frankly, if I see first-time winners for the next TEN seasons I’ll be in nirvana . . .
And to celebrate their achievement here’s the clip from Queen:
I’ll be doing a larger photo story from the weekend but here’s a few nice shots from each of the days . . . thanks to our photographer Ernie Mahler!
Okay, like always, let’s go back to the Preseason Media Poll and see how I did . . .
The Final Four Predictions:
I suspect Ponte Vedra will rebound this year. Two big transfers and Lake Mary lost a lot. Ponte Vedra did lose talent too, but has more in the pipeline this year than the Rams. No one else right now looks ready to take this spot, although I see Oak Hall, Bolles and Nease really starting to gain. Of those two Oak Hall gets a little better shot this year due to their senior class and their desire to avenge the district final upset.
So pencil Ponte Vedra in for this slot.
In the Central it gets really interesting. LHP really dodged the proverbial bullets last year and this is the year where the hunters are finally going to get their shot. I saw Bishop Moore’s great road win over Benjamin and the last mountain top to scale is getting past LHP, and I think this is the year they can do so. The Tampa area has also taken major steps but Berkeley Prep had a bad outing against LHP and I have to see something more to feel they can challenge the LHP/Bishop Moore level. Hagerty had a great year and wants to establish consistency but the schedule makes it harder to see them going through.
I think this is Bishop Moore’s year and will set them up for the semi matchup with PV. The two teams do meet in the regular season and sometimes a team will play possum in this situation. March 17th if you are in the Orlando area.
In the Southeast/Treasure Coast it will likely be about 4 schools. The Jupiter/Benjamin survivor, St. Edward’s and Barron Collier. We’ll be watching Cardinal Mooney and Riverside-Sarasota too to see if they continue to improve but one of them will need to prove they can beat BC, which Riverside came close to last year. Hard to see Jupiter this year not gaining revenge against their district rival. They are loaded, played a lot of underclassmen last year, and Benjamin lost a lot. St. Edward’s is the sleeper pick from this region as Coach Doug Bailey has quietly gone about his business and built a consistent program lately.
So let’s go with Jupiter to get to Boca, ironically after hosting the Final Four the last two years.
In the Southeast we get our usual ‘World Cup Group of Death’ level of competition. It’s too soon for a school like American-Heritage Plantation to be able to take their district given that the initials STA also reside there but Coach Chad Moore is building a really good program there. Saint Andrew’s will face a stiff test in Saint John Paul this year. Oxbridge pretty much is on autopilot in district this year. Gulliver and Belen should meet again in the Round of 16. And Stoneman will really have to dig deep down. Pine Crest and Cardinal Gibbons are already tough competition this year and how the Eagles react is going to be a season-long story to follow.
STA returns a lot of talent, but is a little light up front. So many top graduates the last two years will test them on offense more than anywhere else. If there is a sleeper issue for the playoffs it might be if STA gets held down on that end.
This is such a c*** shoot to predict. STA is still the favorite going in but Oxbridge and SA might be closer this year.
I’ll still go with the defending champs but boy I am not comfortable about it.
So we get down to . . .
Ponte Vedra vs Bishop Moore and Jupiter vs STA
Would it surprise anyone if both those games went to OT?
Last year I predicted a Ponte Vedra-Jupiter final and that didn’t come close to happening.
The strange thing is that I’m inclined to predict it again.
And potentially look foolish AGAIN.
What made STA so tough the last two years was the mental strength their upperclassmen were able to convey and lead to their team mates. It will again take a lot of it to three-peat. I believe it is now FORTY straight wins over Florida teams so it will be interesting to see what happens if a Florida school takes an early season win. STA is playing some big time non-Florida competition, as are many other Florida schools this season and it could take a toll over the season. Jupiter is playing their normal Florida gauntlet and they meet STA on March 29th in the regular season too.
So we could easily have regular season re-matches in the Final Four and that could also factor into who wins the whole thing.
So, let’s look foolish a little again and pick against STA in the semifinals.
I’ll take Ponte Vedra over Bishop Moore because PV has played more big games the last few years and has that experience.
Due to Jupiter’s district losses the last two years their roster does not have much FHSAA experience but since they play STA each year there will be no deer in a headlight feel to that game for them. I’ll go with them finally reaching their first FHSAA championship.
And guess what! Jupiter and Ponte Vedra are ALSO scheduled to play in the regular season this year!
Frankly, and this is a cop out . . . picking the winner on this one is pretty much impossible at this point. One mistake I made on the Inside Lacrosse podcast last season was to stick to my guns even though there was enough info out there to make an adjustment in my predictions and I will learn from that this year.
I’m going to go with Ponte Vedra to win it all TO START, but I’ll certainly be revisiting that thought as the season goes on . . .
Either way it’s going to be a great playoff.
Damn, either 7 seconds or one letter . . . either way that wasn’t bad. Missed out on Barron Collier’s fall and Cardinal Mooney’s rise. Overrated St. Ed’s. And really the only problem was that Ponte Vedra did not get past Bishop Moore.
But to be honest, that’s about as accurate as I’ve been for a preseason prediction and the picks rate a solid B+ or A-.
I promise I’ll NEVER do that to you again . . .
Now, a pledge I am going to make for you for next season.
I really hope Boca Raton is interested in again hosting the state championship weekend. And if they do we are going to shoot for FOUR THOUSAND fans next year.
And here’s how.
Go back to the normal schedule of LACROSSE ONLY, on Friday and Saturday.
Palm Beach County School Board . . . you are NOT NEEDED, you brought NOTHING to the table.
A big apology to the Launch. The original plan was to have their game Thursday, with the normal Friday-Saturday schedule to make a combination ticket.
Start planning in June this year.
Get the Boca Raton City Council involved. You might have noticed a lack of Boca dignitaries at the event . . . part of that was inevitable, you might have read that Boca’s Mayor was arrested two weeks ago . . .
Think creatively. Have the Launch play Sunday afternoon, and schedule youth events around the area on Saturday.
Have the city of Boca Raton proclaim the weekend as the Boca Raton Lacrosse Festival.
Have the Palm Beach County Sports Commission involved too and have Palm Beach County proclaim the weekend Palm Beach County Lacrosse Weekend
Have the State of Florida and whoever the Governor is proclaim the weekend Florida Lacrosse Weekend.
Come up with a mega package.
How’s this sound?
For the youth events . . . each team that enters does so individually. The kid gets the club event to play in, a ticket to the Launch game, a ticket to each session of the State Championships, either a t-shirt or hat from the high school championship and an autographed ball of a Launch player.
How about the Launch holding their practice on Saturday at 4:00pm prior to the finals and the attendance is included? Have Coach Tom Mariano host the ceremonial first faceoff? And $2 per package goes to Meadow’s Park? Is that worth $60? I think so. Offer the same package to the family members and include the parking but without the hat or ball?
Throw in vouchers for discounts for restaurants and hotels in the package.
Friggin’ Office Depot is headquartered in Boca . . . how did they get missed out on?
Make this a weekend they’ll never forget.
One thing I am so glad to be able to report is that FLN continues to get national recognition, as the appearances on the Lax Sports Network continue to show!
If you are a big lacrosse junkie the $7.99 per month is well worth it!
EVERY SINGLE MLL GAME.
Many college and high school games, both men and women.
And the studio show nightly Lacrosse Now . . . where I’ve appeared.
Would make a great stocking stuffer, Hanukkah gift or even Father’s Day present for the young player or lacrosse fan in the family!
For my critics who want to debate the Final Top 25, might I suggest a warm up first?
But before we get to that, let me do my annual Thank You’s:
First, for all the seniors who have played their last games, we thank you for your efforts and wish you the best in whatever direction your lives take you and all the success in the world!
For those who are going on to play in college, hit the weights, the Wall AND the books and show the college world what Florida lacrosse is becoming!
Coaches work their tail off. To those who are stepping down thank you for your time and efforts! And thank you so much for being there when I need an answer or contact information or anything else I ask for. It makes the site such a better product.
For those coaches coming back . . . good luck! The sport is becoming more competitive every year and the brass ring is there for the taking!
A special thanks to the referees! You are putting up with too much and we really hope to help the lacrosse community to appreciate you a LOT more, and support you in continuing to make the experience for the players better every year.
Parents. You open your wallets and you donate your time. It’s not easy being a parent in this sport. But you can make it a lot easier on yourselves if you keep in mind one simple thing. Root for your kids and the team, not against something else. We are going to work over the summer to bring you a lot more information about rules, interpretations and the latest in recruiting knowledge so you can better understand the game and make the experience a lot better. Believe me, when you remember it’s high school sports and not life and death you’ll be a lot happier. Let your kids take it seriously and take the other side, as the kids shoulder to cry on or celebrate with. We all love our kids. But this is their world, not ours. Let them be. Spend your energy helping us at FLN to increase our coverage of your teams! Let us know when content is out there! We can grow as a community together. And set the bar for all the other states that will long for their kids to experience what our kids do!
Special thanks to Wells Dusenbury for hosting the Podcasts and covering my back at times on information!
To my colleagues at FLN, Ernie, Mark, Brook, Matt, Scott and Tom . . . thanks for everything and the support!
To Alex and J.A. at the FHSAA . . . I know I am a royal pain in your a** at times but you know I do it for the sport, not for myself!
And before we get to this let me once again congratulate a true candidate for Coach of the Year, Jeffrey Peters of John I. Leonard.
Entering the season on an EIGHTY-EIGHT GAME LOSING STREAK, the Lancers did this:
|02/19||CARDINAL NEWMAN, FL (6-9)||FL Dist-25||L||1 –||9|
|02/21||CORAL SPRINGS CHARTER (3-8)||FL Dist-27||W||13 –||2|
|02/23||at John Carroll Cath, FL (0-12)||FL Dist-22||W||8 –||6|
|02/27||at Taravella (3-10)||FL Dist-27||W||8 –||5|
|03/02||JOHN CARROLL CATH, FL (0-12)||FL Dist-22||W||9 –||1|
|03/05||at King’s Academy, FL (16-2)||FL Dist-25||L||0 –||15|
|03/07||PARK VISTA (12-3)||FL Dist-25||L||1 –||11|
|03/09||at Coral Springs Charter (3-8)||FL Dist-27||L||3 –||5|
|03/13||at Oxbridge Academy (17-3)||FL Dist-25||L||0 –||18|
|03/15||CORAL GLADES (0-10)||FL Dist-27||W||4 –||3|
|03/16||ST BRENDAN (10-6)||FL Dist-30||L||3 –||4||OT|
|03/27||WELLINGTON (10-6)||FL Dist-25||L||4 –||10|
|04/03||at Piper (0-7)||FL Dist-28||W||9 –||2|
|04/10||at Immaculata, LaSalle (3-4)||FL Indep||W||15 –||0|
|04/13||WELLINGTON (10-6)||FL Dist-25||L||3 –||8|
Drum Roll Please
The Final FLN Media Top 25 Poll for 2018
#1 – Jupiter – earned it the right way, on the field
#2(t) – Bishop Moore – made it to the championship game
#2(t) – Oxbridge – beat ALL the teams in Florida and it took a Herculean goalie effort to take them down
#4 – Saint Andrew’s – the Scots are back and a late injury in the quarters robbed them of a shot at the title game
#5 – Ponte Vedra – a great example of a great schedule giving you credibility
#6 – Cardinal Mooney – one small step for man, one giant leap for Cardinal Mooney and the most dedicated fan in the sport down here . . . now kick it into the next gear
#7 – St. Thomas Aquinas – never quite got over the hump against the top teams above them, but what a terrific run
#8 – Tampa Jesuit – terrific season, needs to do the same as Cardinal Mooney, prove it’s not one year
#9 – Benjamin – one Top 10 win and a solid season but couldn’t win enough of the big games to be higher
#10 – Oak Hall – their best game might well have been the PV loss in the brackets. Can they overcome the senior losses next year?
#11 – HB Plant – the only issue is losing the District final to Tampa Jesuit after winning the regular season matchup!
#12 – Winter Park – marvelous season except for the Sweet 16 game
#13 – St. Augustine – the late season was terrific and the upset of Lake Mary gets them here
#14 – Lake Mary – no Final Four run this year but the rebuild was pretty solid
#15 – Nease – another example of playing the tough games getting you the respect
#16 – Lake Highland Prep – never got it going all year and probably am over-ranking them but they were state finalists last year
#17 – Sickles – 17-3 with two one-goal losses and a nice effort against TJ on the first round
#18 – Belen Jesuit – made it to the Final 8 and also gets points for playing a tougher schedule. They are the Cardinal Mooney of Miami, trending up.
#19 – Newsome – solid long term program that hasn’t yet made the major jump to the top
#20 – Stoneman Douglas – won the District in the face of adversity no one else can fathom
#21 – American Heritage-Plantation – two years from now look out. Ryan Marek was possibly the best kept secret in South Florida
#22 – Gulf Breeze – big breakout year for a team in a non-hotbed area of the state, gave Oak Hall a tough tussle. Noah Hass might have been the best kept secret in North Florida.
#23 – Canterbury – really on the right track, gave Cardinal Mooney a solid run in the 1st round
#24 – Riverview-Sarasota – nice follow up season to last year
#25 – West Orange – not even sure they beat some of the teams in the Also Considered category given that schedule . . . a shame Mikey Berkman was wasted like that
Also Considered (alphabetically listed):
American Heritage-Boca, Creekside, First Academy, Fleming Island, Gulf Coast, Melbourne Central Catholic, Merritt Island, Pine Crest, St. Edward’s, St. John Paul II