(Photo Courtesy of Cardinal Mooney Lacrosse)
With every passing week, more states and teams across the South get their 2023 seasons underway. Last week, South Carolina started play and many in Kentucky, North Carolina, as well as Tennessee, will get things rolling this coming week as the calendar begins to turn toward March.
From South Florida to Upstate South Carolina and everywhere in between, the region was chalk full of good lacrosse action this past week.
Let’s get into it!
Sunshine State OT Thrillers
The past week of high school lacrosse across the South was headlined, in part, by overtime contest. And nowhere was that more prevalent that the Sunshine State’s Southwest Coast.
On Tuesday night, Cardinal Mooney (Fla.) welcomed in Plant (Fla.) for what was sure to be one of the most exciting contest across the state on a night with multiple marquee contest. And an exciting game it would be.
Tied 6-6 at the half, Plant would be able to pull out to a narrow, one goal, 9-8, leading heading into the fourth quarter. During that final frame, the Panthers would stretch that lead out even more and found themselves ahead 13-9 with a little over six minutes left in the contest.
Cardinal Mooney, however, wouldn’t go down that easy. The Cougars put together a four-goal comeback to knot things up late and force overtime. With a little over two minutes left in that extra period, sophomore defensive midfielder Carson Joyce helped force the ball onto the carpet. Junior defenseman Mason Sheffield grabbed the ground ball and moved it up field to sophomore sophomore Jake Morales, who found senior Sean Laureano (Rollins signee) for the game-winner.
Laureano (5G/2A) led the Cougars with seven points on the day while sophomore Jamison McCusker also ended with six points off 3 goals and 3 assists.
It was a pair of senior Air Force signees who led the way for Plant with Turner Ashby netting six goals and dishing out three assists while faceoff man Rogan Kane went 29-for-32 (90%) at the dot.
About two hours south in Fort Myers, Canterbury (Fla.) welcomed in West Palm Beach power Oxbridge (Fla.) on that same Tuesday night in what was the third meeting in as many seasons between the Cougars and ThuderWolves.
Oxbridge came into Tuesday night’s game having beaten Canterbury each of the past two meetings, including an 18-9 victory a year ago. However, on this night, it would be the Cougars would would come out on top and do so in dramatic, upset fashion with a 9-8 victory in double overtime.
South Florida Power Flexes Its Muscle Versus Rival
Two-time defending FHSAA 1A state champion St. Andrew’s (Fla.) passed its first big test of the season as the Scots earned a 9-4 victory over Jupiter (Fla.) at home.
Meeting 14 times in history and three times over the past four seasons, these two have played some extremely tight contest. The Scots won last year’s meeting 7-5, as well as the year prior 7-6. On Tuesday night, however, things weren’t as close. The Scots took an early 3-0 lead and never let up as the St. Andrew’s defense stifled the Warriors’ offense, holding them to their lowest output of the season.
Subsequently, the balanced attack from the Scots’ offense regularly found the back of the net. Senior Jack Schulte (Air Force signee) led the way for the Scots with three goals and one assist while junior Connor Hofbauer added two scores of his own. In all, St. Andrew’s saw six goal-scorers on the night.
Ryan Kaplan and Robert Kaplan split time in cage for the Scots to anchor that strong defensive effort. The pair combined four seven saves (by my count).
Up 4-1 at the end of the first quarter, St. Andrew’s added three more scores in that second frame to take the 7-2 lead at the half. A 2-0 third quarter got them to nine goals on the night. Jupiter put home its final two scores in the fourth quarter.
Senior Sean Meyers led Jupiter with one goal and one assist. Jackson Christ, Christian Carrigan and Dustin Sluzka each added one score.
Dylan Furshman went 10-for-16 (62.5%) at the dot as the brightest spot for the Warriors on day.
The Scots later defeated Plant (Fla.) on Saturday, 13-5, to move to 3-0 on the young season.
Christ Church Episcopal (S.C.) Makes Early Statement
The Cavaliers found themselves coming up short against rising power and eventual champion Lucy Beckham (S.C.) in the SCHSL 4A state semifinals to end last season. Now in 2023, CCES has gotten its inaugural season under head coach Joey Porchetta off to a strong start.
During its first week of play last week, CCES went 3-0 and held each of their opponents to single-digits in those contest. The Cavaliers took down J.L. Mann (S.C.) 15-7 in its opener before knocking off Oceanside Collegiate Academy (S.C.) 16-8 and then Wando (S.C.) 15-9. J.L. Mann was a 5A semifinalist last season while Wando won the title. OCA was a 4A semifinalist last spring
Junior Jack Henry Roye (15G/6A) and senior Camden Pool (10G/11A) have led the way for the Cavaliers thus far with 21 points each through three games. Senior Constantine Gandis has gone 52.9% at the faceoff dot, which includes a 60% day against OCA.
Player of The Week
North Paulding (Ga.) is off to a 4-0 start and earned two wide margin victories last week over North Cobb (Ga.) and St. Pius X (Ga.). Junior Kade McNeil (Mercer commit) had seven and three goals, respectively, in those two victories to give the attackman 16 goals on the season thus far.
Upcoming Games to Watch
Tuesday, February 28
Benjamin (Fla.) vs Jupiter (Fla.)
Saint Andrew’s (Fla.) vs Pine Crest (Fla.)
Ponte Vedra (Fla.) vs Plant (Fla.)
Friday, March 3
Roswell (Ga.) vs Lambert (Ga.)
McCallie (Tenn.) vs Memphis University (Tenn.)
Weddington (N.C.) vs Christ Church Episcopal (S.C.)
Saturday, March 4
St. Xavier (Ky.) vs Western Reserve Academy (Ohio)
Cannon (N.C.) vs Lucy Beckham (S.C.)
Charlotte Catholic (N.C.) vs Christ Church Episcopal (S.C.)
Sunday, March 5
Trinity (Ky.) vs Western Reserve Academy (Ohio)
The Woodlands (Texas) vs Highland Park (Texas)
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