(Photo Courtesy of Ponte Vedra Lacrosse)
In many states in the South, the regular season is coming to an end or has already ended. That means, it’s tournament time.
The Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) 1A and 2A State Tournaments will get underway on Wednesday April 20th and Friday April 23rd with the beginning of region play. A state champion will be crowned in both classifications on Saturday, May 7th.
1A State Tournament
Bolles (17-2), Benjamin (14-3), Jesuit Tampa (13-2), and Saint Andrew’s (15-3) each come into the tournament as the No. 1 seed in each of the four regions. Bolles comes into the state tournament with their only two losses coming against Myers Park (N.C.) and Montverde Academy, who is the No. 6 seed in the second region. Benjamin has fallen to only St. Andrew’s, St. Edward’s, and IMG Academy. Jesuit Tampa’s only two losses came against two good 2A teams in Lake Mary and Plant. St. Andrew’s came into the season with as big of a target on their backs as any team in Sunshine State after an undefeated state title run last season, and thus far, has continued their dominance with an undefeated record against in-state competition.
Outside of those top four seeds, many will have their eyes fixated on regions two and four as a whole. In the second region, the second round could see a third meeting between Benjamin and St. Edward’s. The fifth-seeded Pirates won the regular season meeting 12-10 before the Buccaneers won the second meeting in the district 8 title game, 16-6. Also in that region, No. 3 seed Lake Highland Prep and No. 6 seed Montverde Academy will meet for the third time in the first round. The Highlanders beat Eagles 13-8 in the district 5 championship last week, but fell against them 15-10 in the regular season.
The fourth region could see a third meeting between St. Andrew’s and Pine Crest in the second round. The Scots won both meetings. Also, Oxbridge and John Paul II will meet for a third time in the first round. The Thunderwolves won the first meeting 9-6 and the second 11-4 in the district 13 championship. Plantation American Heritage and Belen Jesuit is also a first round rematch as the sixth-seeded Patriots the third-seeded Wolverines 8-6 in the regular season.
2A State Tournament
Ponte Vedra (15-3), Winter Park (16-2), Plant (15-2), and St. Thomas Aquinas (12-3) have gotten the No. 1 seeds in each of the four regions. Ponte Vedra only has losses to Plant, Roswell (Ga.), and 1A power St. Andrew’s. Winter Park’s two losses came to Lake Mary and Bolles while Plant has only fallen to St. Andrew’s and Jupiter, which came in double OT. St. Thomas Aquinas has lost only one game to in-state competition, falling to Benjamin 12-11 in overtime. They also fell to Boy’s Latin (Md.) and Dallas Jesuit (Texas).
Much of the storylines and talking points coming into this year’s 2A tournament revolve around the the north Florida area in that first region. Ponte Vedra is led by new head coach Chris Polanski as they look to finish what they couldn’t last season due to Creekside taking them out in the district title game. The Sharks got their payback in the regular season, beating the Knights 16-6, and could get it for a second time if the two meet in the region final. However, the second region also includes a strong Lake Mary squad. The Rams beat the Knights 13-12 in the regular season and the two could very well meet in the second round.
Elsewhere, the Jupiter Warriors are a team to pay attention to. While sporting an 11-8 record, all their losses have been against some of the state’s best. That includes a 13-8 loss to St. Thomas Aquinas, who they could play in the region final. The Warriors fell to Creekside 14-13 in their only other 2A loss. They have wins over Lake Mary, 7-4, and Plant, whom they beat 11-10 in double overtime. In the third region, Newsome and Mitchell could meet for a second time. The three-seeded Wolves beat the two-seeded Mustangs 15-13 in the regular season meeting.
Five Players to Watch
Luke Haley, A, Newsome (Sr. Utah signee) – 2A
Jordan Faison, M, Pine Crest (Jr., Notre Dame commit) -1A
Maddox Johnson, M, Ponte Vedra (Jr., Denver commit) -2A
Jack Schulte, A, St. Andrew’s (Jr., Air Force commit) -1A
Sean Jordan, LSM, St. Andrew’s (Sr., Harvard signee) – 1A