The big change in Florida high school lacrosse this year is that the state finals have grown from one class to two.
Since the state began sanctioning state finals in 2008, only one Dade or Broward school — St. Thomas Aquinas — has won a championship. Aquinas’ boys won state in 2016 and repeated in 2017.
Among the boys in Class 2A this season, Jacksonville-area’s Ponte Vedra is favored to repeat as state champs. But Aquinas — which has made the final game in five of the past six years — figures to contend.
Aquinas will be led by junior All-American Jared Chenoy, who has committed to the University of Richmond. But Aquinas graduated five of its top six offensive players, and coach Terry Crowley said his young defense will be a key.
Among the boys in Class 1A, American Heritage coach Chad Moore is not at all disappointed to avoid Aquinas in the playoffs. Orlando-area’s Bishop Moore, which made the state semifinals last season, could be the front-runner, with Gulliver Prep, Western, St. Andrew’s, Pine Crest, Calvary Christian and Palm Beach Benjamin all in the chase.
Heritage, eliminated by Aquinas last year, will be led by senior All-American Kadin Schillo, who signed with NCAA Division II St. Leo.
“Kadin is a beast,” Moore said of the 6-0, 220-pounder. “Teams try to double-team him, and it doesn’t work. He’s big, fast and shoots violently.”
Heritage junior Danny Haimes, who won 78 percent of his face-offs last year, has committed to Air Force. Junior Jake Marek, who Moore believes is the best goalie in the state, is also interested in Air Force.
“When we are on our ‘A’ game,” Moore said of his Patriots, who went 14-2 last year, “we can be unbeatable.”
In the girls’ Class 2A competition, contenders include three schools that made the 2019 playoffs: state semifinalist Hagerty, regional finalist Aquinas and regional quarterfinalist Cypress Bay.
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Aquinas is led by sophomore All-American Ava Yovino. The Raiders also have Caroline Stephans (Navy recruit), Ellie Rigner (Rutgers), Katelin Michaud (Elon); Logan Tingley (High Point); and Sophie Speno (uncommitted).
Cypress Bay is led by All-American Jaycee Engelhard, a junior who has committed to the University of Cincinnati. She has finished top-five in the state in scoring in her freshman and sophomore years, including 81 goals last season.
In the girls’ Class 1A competition, reigning state champion Lake Highland Prep leads a crowded field that includes state runner-up Benjamin, state semifinalist Delray American Heritage and regional semifinalists Pine Crest and Ransom Everglades.
Pine Crest is led by seniors Lizzie Kaplan (Columbia recruit), Chloe Maister (Cornell) and Jordan Vital (Chicago) as well as standout junior Taylor McClain (Bucknell).
Ransom coach Kiersten Mulvey, a former college lacrosse player from New Jersey, returns standouts such as junior Helaina Harris and senior Sophia Antezana.
Harris, an All-American goalie, has committed to Northwestern University, which is ranked among the top 10 teams in the nation in women’s lacrosse.
Antezana, the 2019 Miami-Dade County Player of the Year, is a Tufts University recruit.
“Sophia is the hardest worker on the field, and she has the ability to give constructive criticism to her teammates because of her strong lacrosse IQ,” Mulvey said. “Helaina had great numbers last year (144 saves, 88 goals allowed). She knows how to take in pressure and perform at her best.”
▪ Palmetto 5, Braddock 1: Zack Ryan (2-0) struck out 7 in the win. Gabe Vega 4-4, 1 run, 1 RBI; Danny Lavoy 1-2, 1 run; Josh Romer 1-2, 1 run, 1 RBI. Palmetto (3-4-1).
▪ Southwest 6 Coral Gables 0: Brandon Andrade struck out 8 in the win.
▪ Dog Pound Boys Tournament — Pool Play scores — Saturday: Braddock d. Killian 25-17, 25-15; Pinecrest d. Franklin 25-16, 26-24; Miami d. American 25-23, 28-26; Hialeah Gardens d. Terra 25-22, 25-20.
Silver Bracket scores: Semifinal 1 – American d. Franklin 25-11, 25-20; Semifinal 2 – Pinecrest d. Killian 25-22, 25-16; 3rd Place – Killian d. Franklin 25-20, 20-25, 15-9; Championship – American d. Pinecrest 25-21, 24-26, 15-10.
Gold Bracket scores: Semifinal 1 – Hialeah Gardens d. Braddock 25-21, 25-22; Semifinal 2 – Miami d. Terra 25-22, 25-17; 3rd Place – Braddock d. Terra 25-19, 25-17; Championship – Miami d. Hialeah Gardens 25-16, 24-26, 15-11.
▪ Friday scores: Braddock d. American: 25-15, 25-23; Miami d. Killian: 25-12, 25-15; American d. Killian: 25-18, 25-20; Miami d. Braddock: 19-25, 25-23, 15-9; Terra d. Franklin: 25-7, 25-20; Hialeah Gardens d. Pinecrest: 25-19, 25-21; Hialeah Gardens d. Franklin: 25-12, 25-10; Terra d. Pinecrest: 25-20, 25-23.
BOYS’ WATER POLO
▪ Wildcat Invitational in Orlando — Gulliver 16 Dr. Phillips 5: Bruno Rebessi 7 goals, 2 assists, 4 steals; Awwal Kay-Ramos 5 goals, 1 assist, and 7 steals; Hayaat Kay-Ramos 2 goals, 4 assists, 2 steals; Kamal Kay-Ramos 7 blocks.
▪ Gulliver 14, Winter Park 9: Bruno Rebessi 9 goals, 5 assists, 5 steals; Awwal Kay-Ramos 2 goals, 2 assists, 6 steals;
Jeronimo Dacharry 2 goals, 1 assist, 2 steals; Kamal Kay-Ramos 5 blocks; Gulliver record 13-0.