Florida Boys' Lacrosse Finals Preview

A state champion will be crowned in boys' lacrosse this weekend as the Florida High School Athletic Association Finals commence Friday in Winter Garden. Title favorite St. Andrew's finds itself in a familiar scenario and will shoot for its ninth consecutive state title. However, fellow state powers Lake Highland Prep, Lake Brantley and Ponte Vedra are also loaded and certainly capable of taking the 2011 crown. In our '11 Florida state finals preview, get the latest updates on each team and the upcoming semifinal match-ups leading up to Saturday's finale.

Semifinals: Ponte Vedra (19-1) vs. Saint Andrew's (16-1), Friday at 12 PM

The boys' race for the state supremacy will be hotly contested this weekend with four legitimate title threats. In the first semifinal contest of the day, Ponte Vedra faces off against St. Andrew's in an intriguing matinee showdown.

Ponte Vedra enters the Final Four playing at the top of its game, winning its last 19 games and holding 16 of those teams to five goals or less. The Sharks fresh off a 13-9 Second Round Play-In victory over Leon -- boast a well-rounded roster headed by standout midfielders Brendan Francis and Michael Power, attackman Anthony Pradella and LSM Derrick Miller. Bob Harding has also been a turnover machine on the defensive end for the Sharks (19-1) and will likely have the task of going up against St. Andrew's top weapons. While Ponte Vedra has never faced St. Andrew's before in its brief but successful history, the Sharks are dangerous and possess the talent to dethrone the Scots.

However, the Sharks will likely need to put forth its best performance in program history to get by St. Andrew's. After all, the Scots have won eight titles in a row for a reason. The Scots feature standout players at every position and can routinely punish opponents through its highly efficient offense and turnover-inducing defense.

The Scots will look to attackers Conor Whipple and Jordan Todd for production offensively, plus M.J. Lorenzo and Max Susskind to assert their authority in the midfield. Goalie Chris Kelly and defender Quinn Cade (Brown) should also play key roles for St. Andrew's. The Scots (16-1) have won their last 14 games, which includes an 11-5 victory over a talented Saint Thomas Aquinas squad in the quarterfinals.

With both teams favoring a quick-paced tempo, look for Friday's semifinal to feature a lot of fast breaks and efficient transition play. The difference could be whether Ponte Vedra has the ability to match St. Andrew's goal-for-goal and can take advantage of high-percentage opportunities when they get them especially late in the contest.

Semifinals: Lake Brantley vs. Lake Highland Prep, Friday at 7 PM

In Friday's other semifinal match-up, Lake Highland Prep takes on Lake Brantley starting at 7 PM. Lake Highland was the state runner-up in '10 and looks just as strong in '11 thanks in part to its talented veteran core.

Attackman Will Rotatori is one of Florida's top all-around playmakers (58 goals and counting) and is currently riding the coattails of a seven-point performance in his team's 15-4 win over Vero Beach in the quarterfinals. Meanwhile, captain Nick St. Laurent is a threat every time he touches the ball, plus junior attack Austin Tamayo brings an added dimension as a lefty and has been a consistent player all season. Senior goalie Warren Berenis has the ability to change a game single-handedly and midfielder Malcolm Clayton should serve as the team's go-to face-off specialist.

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2011-05-05



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