High School Hysteria Blog
|Lake Worth Christian||0|
|WP: Eric Wiebke (Well); LP: Dominic Mercurio (TKA)||FINAL|
|The King's Academy||3|
|WP: Hector Perdigon (FH); LP: David Perlman (JC)||FINAL|
|WP: Casey Goldenberg (Sun); LP: Shane Sawczak (PBC): S: Will Engel||FINAL|
|Palm Beach Central||0|
|WP: Noah Adams (BC): 5.0 IP, 1 H, 10 K; DJ Lawler (BC): 2-3, 2 RBI||FINAL|
|Boca Raton Christian||0|
|WP: Anthony Zaleski||FINAL|
|Palm Beach Lakes||0|
|Class 2A-12 District Championship -- at Berean Christian School||FINAL|
|Class 2A-13 District Championship -- at American Heritage-Delray||FINAL|
|The King's Academy||3|
|Class 6A-13 District Championship -- at Jensen Beach High School||FINAL|
|Class 7A-13 District Championship -- at Ferrin Park||FINAL|
|Class 8A-10 District Championship -- at John I. Leonard High School||FINAL|
|District 19 Championship -- at St. Edward's||FINAL|
|District 20 Championship -- at Dwyer High School||FINAL|
|District 21 Championship -- at Cardinal Newman||FINAL|
|The King's Academy||7|
|District 22 Championship -- at Palm Beach Central High School||FINAL|
|District 23 Championship -- at Spanish River High School||FINAL|
|District 19 Championship -- at St. Edward's School||FINAL|
|District 21 Championship -- at Benjamin School||FINAL|
|District 23 Championship -- at Park Vista High School||FINAL|
Jupiter and Benjamin are no strangers to late game drama.
In the past three meetings between the rivals, each game was decided in the final quarter.
Thursday was no different.
In a battle between two of the state's top programs, Benjamin outscored Jupiter 3-1 in the final eight minutes to top the Warriors 8-6 and capture the District 20 State Championship. The Buccaneers will travel to Jensen Beach on Tuesday to face the Falcons in the Regional Quarterfinals.
"It's always a great game no matter what," said Benjamin goalie Anthony Cicio of playing Jupiter. "Winning any playoff game is a really good feeing, but especially [against] Jupiter."
While it was just a District Championship Game, it carried the atmosphere of a State Championship Game.
Two rivals less than five miles apart. Two teams littered with Division-1 talent. Two programs with wins against the top competition in the state.
While both teams have proven themselves to be among Florida's elite, the harsh reality of off-season redistricting meant one team would be gone before the Regional Playoffs actually began.
Benjamin, who's been red-hot in the second half of the year, kept that momentum going to start the game. The Bucs jumped out to an early 3-0 lead behind goals from Colin O'Hare, Andrew Packer and Jeremy Stauffer.
The Bucs looked like they were about to open a 4-0 lead, but Jupiter goalie Viper Scheele flipped the momentum instantaneously. With 3:20 left in the opening quarter, O'Hare got a great look at the net, but Sheele came up with the save and then set the Warriors offense in motion. He immediately set off a perfect outlet pass, which would result in a transition goal from Peter Cox to put Jupiter on the board.
Less than three minutes later, Jupiter struck again as midfielder Lars Coughlin rifled a goal past Cicio off a one-on-one dodge to cut Benjamin's lead to 3-2.
After a scoreless second quarter, Benjamin retook the momentum in the third. McKenna Johnston and O'Hare scored within :22 of each other to give the Bucs a 5-2 advantage.
In what was a game of runs, Jupiter responded next. Attackmen Jesse Foertmeyer and Michael Dean each tallied goals to cut the deficit to 5-4 entering the 4th quarter.
Less than two minutes into the pivotal final frame, Jupiter's opportunistic defense came through. Defenseman Connor Alexander scooped up a ground ball deep in Jupiter territory and ran downfield through three Benjamin players, setting up a Warriors' fast break. Junior Zach Crotty would capitalize, ripping one top shelf to even the score for the first time since 0-0.
The Warriors, however, would suffer a pair of devastating bad breaks in the next three minutes.
With 8:21 remaining, Benjamin midfielder Bobby O'Leary rifled a shot from just inside the restraining line, but Scheele was able to partially block the attempt. The Warriors' goalie, however, was unable to fully retain control of the ball and it managed to cross the goal line by mere inches to give Benjamin a 6-5 lead.
Three minutes later, Scheele suffered more tough luck. Bucs attackman Ryan Sylverster rifled an attempt on cage, but Scheele was able to deny the attempt. Off the save, however, the ball bounced into the air and right into the stick of O'Hare, who finished for his third goal of the night, giving the Bucs a two-goal advantage.
"This game was decided between a few plays," said Jupiter head coach Danny Loftus. "They made those plays. They're very deserving."
Jupiter wouldn't go away though. With 5:08 left, Jake Steiger scored of an assist from Cox to cut the lead to 7-6. But on the ensuing faceoff, Benjamin put the game away for good.
Packer, a University of Maryland commit, won the draw, darted downfield and ripped a perfectly placed shot top-right, just past the stick of Scheele. Packer, wh split time playing attack and facing off, was a workhorse for the Bucs, scoring two goals in the victory.
"I gave it my all," said an exhausted Packer after the game. "I even threw up on the sideline. But I just kept pushing through."
For Jupiter, the loss brought an abrupt end to what was a promising season. The Warriors started the season 7-0 with wins versus defending state champion Lake Highland Prep, St. Andrew's and Ponte Vedra.
"I feel bad for our seniors," said Loftus. "They're great kids. I was trying to tell them this program didn't exist four, five years ago."
"'I'm proud of our guys. I can't say it enough."
The Bucs now turn their attention to the Regional Playoffs, where they'll look to make a run to the State Final Four for a second season in a row. But for Benjamin, who fell in the Semifinals last year, they're not getting ahead of themselves.
"We just look to keep improving everyday in practice," said Cicio. "We're hoping to go all the way this year."