Lake Highland Prep, Vero Beach Win Florida Titles

For the first time since 2002, the state of Florida has a new champion in boys' lacrosse.

Behind a thrilling fourth-quarter comeback, Lake Highland Prep defeated eight-time defending champion Saint Andrew's on Saturday, 11-10, in the FHSAA Finals to capture its first state title in program history.

The Highlanders clawed back despite facing a two-goal deficit with less than three minutes left in regulation. Senior Nick St. Laurent capped the rally by scoring the game-winner with just seven seconds on the clock.

For Lake Highland Prep head coach Chris Spaulding, the victory was a culmination of years of hard work and also learning from a number of close defeats to the Scots in previous seasons.

"It feels good to get the weight off our shoulders," said Spaulding, whose team had lost its previous eight games against St. Andrew's, including last year's championship match-up. "We've been so close in recent years and finally we've made that last step. It was a relief, really."

The 2011 title contest proved to be a game of runs, as both teams staged impressive streaks throughout. After falling behind 3-1 early, Lake Highland benefited from an effective zone defense and went on a 4-0 run in the first half to snag a 5-3 edge heading into intermission. However, St. Andrew's adjusted after the break and tallied five-straight goals to take a commanding 9-6 lead with seven minutes to go.

With St. Andrew's up 10-8 and under three minutes left, Spaulding called a timeout to rally his troops.

"I told the guys that we had plenty of time and not to worry," Spaulding recalled. "I said, ‘Don't rush your shots, take your time and get a good look.' I then drew up a play that ended up working and gave us momentum the rest of the way."

Senior Will Rotatori scored on the following possession before fellow senior Morgan Clark tied the game with just 39 ticks left. Just over a half-minute later, St. Laurent scored on a rebound off a Rotatori attempt, sending an already raucous crowd into a frenzy.

"You couldn't have drawn up a better script," Spaulding said. "It means a lot to beat St. Andrew's, particularly for these seniors. It was pretty special to finally get over the hump and beat that team in that style. I couldn't be happier for the guys."

Clark, Rotatori, St. Laurent and teammate Davis Anderson each had two goals for the Highlanders (20-1 overall). St. Andrew's standout Conor Whipple led the way for the Scots (17-2) with three tallies.

In semifinal action on Friday, Lake Highland Prep easily dispatched Lake Brantley, 17-5 to make its second-straight finals appearance. As for St. Andrew's, the Scots downed a red-hot Ponte Vedra squad, 12-1, to advance.

Vero Beach Takes Florida Girls' Championship, Wins 60th-Straight Game

On Saturday, Vero Beach asserted its dominance once again, this time on the season's biggest stage as the Fighting Indians beat Winter Springs, 20-3, to claim the 2011 FHSAA Girls' Lacrosse Championship. The result marked the team's 60th consecutive victory and sixth-straight Florida title.

Senior attacker Samantha MacCurdy scored a game-high six goals and teammate Mackenzie Smith added five more to pace a balanced Fighting Indians attack. The program also claimed its 76th win in a row against Florida opposition.

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