Florida High School Lacrosse Playoff Preview

The Florida High School Athletic Association District Tournaments are underway this week across the girls' and boys' lacrosse divisions. District semifinal and finals matches will be played through Friday to decide which teams will move on to the First Round Play-In bracket. With an assortment of district playoff games still on the horizon and the opening rounds of the FHSAA Finals Play-in Games set to commence next Tuesday, here's a preview of the road to the 2011 Florida Lacrosse Championship.

FHSAA Boys' Lacrosse

Best District Title Match-up: Timber Creek vs. Winter Park

This District 10 title game set for Thursday is particularly interesting considering that Winter Park and Timber Creek are both top ten teams in the LaxPower Florida Rankings. Plus, Winter Park beat the Wolves, 13-10, in a highly competitive game back on March 23. Timber Creek (13-3) has now won five in a row following a one-goal loss to Lake Highland Prep on April 2. Meanwhile, behind Nicco Vella and a balanced attack, Winter Park (14-4) enters the pivotal contest riding a five-game winning streak and has played top teams tough all year, beating Boone, 12-11, Lake Mary, 9-8, losing to Ponte Vedra, 11-10 in overtime, and also falling to Lake Highland Prep by two goals on April 1. Timber Creek will look to offensive standouts Jacob Rooney and Scott Turner for production.

Easiest Road to the Final Four: Ponte Vedra

After a 10-3 loss to open the season against Lake Highland Prep, Ponte Vedra has reeled off 16 wins in a row and enters the tournament red hot. Led by Derrick Miller and Bob Harding, the team's defense has been stifling, holding teams to just 3.1 goals per game in its 16 victories.

However, the road to the Final Four shouldn't be as tough as last season when Bolles upset the Sharks in the District 2 title game. This time around, Ponte Vedra will face Bartram Trail on Thursday in District 3 finals, a team they beat 15-1 on April 7. With a win, the Sharks would then face the winner of the District 4 final between Oak Hall and F.W. Buchholz in the First Round. After that, a second round match-up would likely feature Episcopal Jacksonville, 13-2 overall, but a team owning a state strength of schedule at No. 88.

Upset Alert: Winter Park or Timber Creek over Lake Highland Prep in First Round

Earlier this season, Lake Highland Prep (15-1) edged Winter Park by the score of 11-9 back on April 1. That's no aberration. The Wildcats have played the state's top-ranked teams close all season long and this potential first round match-up should be no different. While Lake Highland Prep is a deeper, more experienced team on paper with standouts like Will Rotatori and Nick St. Laurent leading the way, the Wildcats have upset capability if the ball bounces their way. Meanwhile, following a 12-11 loss to Lake Highland Prep on April 2, Timber Creek has averaged 19 goals per contest during a five-game winning streak. Should the Wolves get to the First Round Play-in game, they certainly have the potential to knock off a talented Lake Highland squad.

Toughest Road Ahead: St. Thomas Aquinas

St. Thomas Aquinas (12-2) gets no breaks in this year's tournament. The Raiders must face a tough Pine Crest team in the District Finals, a team they slipped by 9-8 earlier this season. However, the script could be easily flipped this time around with a Pine Crest squad seeking revenge. Should the Raiders get beyond the district finals, the team could potentially face Gulliver Prep in a first round play-in game before possibly squaring off against St. Andrews in the second round. It's safe to say that the Raiders have their work cut out. All-American goalie Chris Selva (Hofstra) has been instrumental in his team's success this year whether through his performance between the pipes, his leadership or when leading transition breaks.

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