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HEADLINES
Positive Coaching Alliance: Triple Impact Competitor Nominations
by posted 04/25/2017


2017 Finalist Lauren Ransdell (Steinbrenner)
Attention Current High School Juniors, 
 
Positive Coaching Alliance - Tampa Bay is now seeking qualified student-athletes for the Class of 2018 scholarship award program.  Applications are due May 31st. 
PCA awards scholarships of $1,000-$2,000 (depending on location) to high school athletes, based on their essays explaining how they meet the standard defined in: 
 
  • Personal Mastery: Making oneself better
  • Leadership: Making one's teammates better
  • Honoring the Game: Making the game better.
 
Eligibility extends to any high school junior residing anywhere in the U.S. and playing for a high school team or in club sports!  To apply or for more information about the Class of 2018 scholarship program, go to:  http://www.positivecoach.org/our-awards/triple-impact-competitor-scholarships/
 
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Check out HALAX's 2017 Finalists and their Personal Bios and Videos proclaiming their desire to positively impact their teammates, competition and the entire community:

Lauren Ransdell (Steinbrenner): http://www.positivecoach.org/the-pca-blog/lauren-ransdell/

Elizabeth Farrell (Durant): http://www.positivecoach.org/the-pca-blog/elizabeth-farrell/

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Western Conference All-Team Selections
by posted 04/20/2017


Jack Schifino is a Brick Wall in Net for Plant Boys

The fourth year of varsity lacrosse was highly encouraging across Hillsborough County, as the game continues to grow and local programs continue to prove they have the skill to play with programs across the state. 

Thank you to our 600 student-athletes for an incredible year, and a special congratulations for our All-Western Conference Selections for the 2017 season. These players and coaches exemplified All-Star status and significantly impacted the performance of their teams throughout the season.

 

Western Conference Boys First Team Selection

Goalie: Jack Schifino (Plant, Jr.)

Defense: Christian Avalos (Newsome, Sr.), Eagan Baber (Plant, Sr.), Christopher Zito (Sickles, Sr.)

Midfielders: Cole Jackson (Newsome, Jr.), Michael Ciccarello (Sickles, Jr.), Collin Payton (Freedom, Sr.)

Attack: Richard Melvin (Steinbrenner, Sr.), Connor Florich (Newsome, Jr.), Evan Knapp (Bloomingdale, Sr.)

FOGO: Matthew Bleckley (Wharton, Sr.)

Long Stick Midfielder: Ethan Cannata (Wharton, Sr.)

 

Western Conference Boys Second Team Selection

Goalie: Ryan Zeisger (Robinson, Sr.)

Defense: Kevin Mieczkowski (Newsome, Jr.), Drew Mayts (Plant, Soph.), Bryce Colee (Freedom, Sr.)

Midfielders: Eric Cotty (Plant, Sr.), Cole Crawford (Freedom, Jr.), Brian Wilson (Tampa Bay Tech, Soph.)

Attack: Andrew Lewis (Alonso, Jr.), Andrew Simonsen (Newsome, Sr.), Charles Peterson (Sickles, Soph.)

FOGO: Hunter Turner (Newsome, Jr.),

Long Stick Midfielder: Cody Whigham (Plant, Sr.)

 

Western Conference Boys Coach of the Year

Eric Blackburn – Newsome High School  

 

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Western Conference Girls First Team Selection

Goalie: Kelly Spence (Wharton, Jr.)

Defense: Macey Soltis (Steinbrenner, Sr.), Madison Ulvenes (Steinbrenner, Jr.), Bonnie Sopher (Plant, Jr.), Sydney Rintoul (Newsome, Soph.)

Midfielders: Kendyl Hand (Steinbrenner, Sr.), Grace Hobson (Newsome, Soph.), Lexi Ashby (Plant, Soph.)

Attack: Alexa Keeler (Robinson, Sr.), Grace Owens (Plant, Sr.), Megan Mulroe (Sickles, Jr.), Holliston Wagner (Alonso, Sr.)

 

Western Conference Girls Second Team Selection

Goalie: Regine Swanson (Tampa Bay Tech, Sr.)

Defense: Grace Freeman (Newsome, Fr.), Maria Schultz (Wharton, Soph.), Carol Ta (Robinson, Sr.), Nicole Abdul (Steinbrenner, Sr.)

Midfielders: Carolina Cassedy (Robinson, Jr.), Faith Freeman (Newsome, Jr.), Michelle Graham (Steinbrenner, Sr.)

Attack: Ally Crusey (Newsome, Fr.), Hannah Cohen (Sickles, Sr.), Natalie Noble (Wharton, Sr.), Delaney Turton (Plant, Sr.)

 

Western Conference Girls Coach of the Year

Jon Moseman – Sickles High School

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Regional Wrap-Up: Newsome Lady Wolves Advance
by posted 04/19/2017


Lady Wolves are Still Alive

Plant High School and Newsome High School are no strangers to lacrosse success, as the ladies faced off on South Himes Avenue Tuesday night for a highly anticipated state regional semi-final. In a game many believed would come down to the wire, the Newsome Lady Wolves raced out to an early lead and handed the Lady Panthers a rare loss with a 14-8 final.

The Lady Panthers continued their steady success and head coach Jayne Chapman will certainly have her team highly competitive again next season, but this was truly a breakout game for the Newsome program. Not only does this mark their first ever win against Plant, but also sets them up against I-4 powerhouse Bishop Moore in the tourament's next round. With a match-up against one of the state's top programs, there will be heavy anticipation around Newsome's first trip to the Elite 8 of the FHSAA Lacrosse State Playoffs. 

The Lady Wolves will host Bishop Moore at 7:00 p.m. on Friday April 21, 2017 at home in Lithia. 

 

Newsome also had a big night on the boys side, but the Wolves were unable to overcome a deeply talented Berkeley Prep squad, losing to the host 13-8. Despite going into the game with a perfect 16-0 record on the season, Newsome was unable to establish themselves, falling behind 9-6 at half time and playing catch-up for the majority of the game. This was an absolutely incredible season for a Newsome program that lost 12 players from a season ago, and a team that will continue to compete at the highest level for years to come. 

Best of luck to Berkeley Prep as they travel to take on a difficult out-of-county test against Lake Highland Prep on Friday night at 7:00 p.m. in the Elite 8 of the boys bracket. 

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District Champions Head off to States
by posted 04/10/2017


Plant Lady Panthers are a Force in District 15

Congratulations to Newsome & Steinbrenner programs for the incredible acheivement of winning both boys & girls district titles. The Wolves secured the 14th district, while Steinbrenner earned two close wins against Sickles in each District 16 final. 

The Plant High Lady Panthers program continues to set a high standard of excellence, winning yet another District 15 championship. Berkeley Prep took down Plant in the District 15 boys final, leading us to our first round state playoff match ups.

District Champions:
  • District 14: Girls - Newsome / Boys - Newsome
  • District 15: Girls - Plant / Boys - Berkeley Prep
  • District 16: Girls - Steinbrenner / Boys - Steinbrenner 

 

The FHSAA Lacrosse State Championship will feature each district champion, including a District 15 vs. District 16 showdown for both boys and girls. All games are this Thursday April 13, 2017.

FHSAA Lacrosse State Championship First-Round Play-In Games - Thursday, April 13, 2017
 
Girls
  • Plant @ Steinbrenner - 5:00 PM
  • Celebration @ Newsome 6:00 PM
 
Boys:
  • Berkeley Prep @ Steinbrenner - 7:00 PM
  • Lakeland @ Newsome 8:00 PM

Best of luck to all teams and please come out and support at either Steinbrenner or Newsome on Thursday! 

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District Tournaments Begin Monday
by posted 03/31/2017


After an amazing season that seems to have gone by in an instant, we have finally arrived at our district playoffs. Good luck to all teams next week and thank you to all the seniors who have helped build programs that will continue to develop for years to come.

 

District 14

Girls Seeding

  1. Newsome
  2. Durant
  3. Bloomingdale
  4. Tampa Bay Tech

 

Opening Round: Tuesday April 4, 2017 at Newsome High School

#2 Durant vs. #3 Bloomingdale at 5:00 p.m.

#1 Newsome vs. #4 Tampa Bay Tech 7:00 p.m.

 

Championship Game: Thursday April 6, 2017 at Newsome High School

Teams TBD 7:00 p.m.

 

Boys Seeding

  1. Newsome
  2. Durant
  3. Bloomingdale
  4. Tampa Bay Tech

 

Opening Round: Tuesday April 4, 2017 at Durant High School

#2 Durant vs. #3 Bloomingdale at 5:00 p.m.

#1 Newsome vs. #4 Tampa Bay Tech at 7:00 p.m.

 

Championship Game: Thursday April 6, 2017 at Durant High School

Teams TBD 7:00 p.m.

 

District 15

Girls Seeding

  1. Plant
  2. Tampa Catholic
  3. Berkeley Prep
  4. Academy of the Holy Names

 

Opening Round: Tuesday April 4, 2017 at Tampa Catholic High School

#1 Plant vs #4 Academy of the Holy Names at 5:00 p.m.

#2 Tampa Catholic vs. #3 Berkeley Prep at 7:00 p.m

 

Championship Game: Friday April 7, 2017 at Tampa Catholic High School

Teams TBD 7:00 p.m.

 

Boys Seeding

  1. Berkeley Prep
  2. Jesuit
  3. Plant
  4. Tampa Catholic

 

Opening Round: Tuesday April 4, 2017 at Jesuit High School

#1 Berkeley Prep vs. #4 Tampa Catholic at 5:00 p.m.

#2 Jesuit vs. #3 Plant at 7:00 p.m.

 

Championship Game: Thursday April 6, 2017 at Jesuit High School

Teams TBD 7:00 p.m.

 

District 16

Girls Seeding

  1. Steinbrenner
  2. Sickles
  3. Wharton
  4. Alonso

 

Opening Round: Monday April 3, 2017 at Alonso High School

#2 Sickles vs. #3 Wharton at 5:00 p.m.

#1 Steinbrenner vs. #4 Alonso at 7:00 p.m.

 

Championship Game: Wednesday April 5, 2017 at Alonso High School

Teams TBD 7:00 p.m.

 

Boys Seeding

  1. Sickles
  2. Steinbrenner
  3. Alonso
  4. Wharton

 

Opening Round: Wednesday April 5, 2017 at Sickles High School

#2 Steinbrenner vs. #3 Alonso at 5:00 p.m.

#1 Sickles vs. #4 Wharton at 7:00 p.m.

 

Championship Game: Friday April 7, 2017 at Sickles High School

Teams TBD 7:00 p.m. 

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West Tampa Wolves Seeking High School Talent
by posted 03/23/2017


The Wolves are Based in the Westchase/Keystone/Odessa Area

West Tampa Wolves are the newest lacrosse club in the Westchase/Keystone/Odessa area, already working with over 100 youth athletes helping grow the game. Beyond the pipeline the Wolves have begun to establish at K-8 schools such as Westchase Elm, Mary Bryant Elm and Walker Middle, the organization is aiming to help teach the sport to players at Alonso, Sickles and Steinbrenner. With an amazing coaching staff that includes 2 Women All Americans and several men's coaches with high school and collegiate experience across the country, the organization is dedicated to its athletes. Below is their mission statement and please visit their site at:

https://leagueathletics.com/Default.asp?org=WTWOLVES.COM

We are a non-profit lacrosse club that believes in supporting the multi-sport athlete.  We focus on the whole player insuring their long-term development in athletics as well as life. We strive to provide the highest level of coaching instruction at each age level to ensure individual growth within the sport. Our coaches, parents and volunteers are committed to developing each player’s character, while teaching leadership, teamwork, and sportsmanship. Through our positive fun based family culture we aim to foster their life long enjoyment of lacrosse.

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Two Hillsborough County Lacrosse Coaches Honored by Community
by posted 03/03/2017


Steinbrenner Girls Celebrating Coach Kay's Recognition

Each month the Tampa Bay Lightning and Tampa Electric’s Zap Cap partner to recognize a local youth or high school coach that constantly embraces leadership, community involvement and sportsmanship. 

Two local Hillsborough County lacrosse coaches have been recognized during the months of January and March at Lightning home games. Steinbrenner girls head coach Ed Kay was honored last month during the Lightning’s game vs. the Winnipeg Jets and Jim Shaler of South Tampa Sticks was presented the award at Wednesday’s win against the Carolina Hurricanes. Both $1000 donations provide a significant impact towards continuing to build our current and future generations of lacrosse players. 

We can’t thank Coach Kay and Coach Shaler enough for their dedicated work and appreciate all our coaches that are growing the game every day.  

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February Wrap-Up: 2017 Continues to Show Growth
by posted 03/02/2017


Throughout the 2017 season, we will be taking inside looks at all of our teams and following their progress. In our fourth season of varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County, all programs are showing exemplary growth and establishing the sport across the region. Here are some early insights from the opening few weeks of the season:

 

Tampa Bay Tech Lady Titans

Season record thus far: 1-3 

District Record thus far: 0-1

Top 3 Scorers: Bella Guntert, Kiara Fonseca, Shana Foster

Top 3 Ground Ball players: Bella Guntert, Darley Desormo, Louise Cruz

 

New head coach Taylor Dooley has seen marked improvement from her team since the first day of practice, and it showed with the team winning an early season contest against Alonso. Bella Guntert has shown her exceptional talent leading the team in scoring, and her goal with ten seconds remaining gave the Lady Titans the chance to earn their 15-14 overtime win. Regine Swanson has emerged as an extremely viable goaltender recording 42 saves over 3 games.  

 

Sickles Gryphons

Season record thus far: 4-1

District record thus far: 1-0

Top 3 scorers: Michael Ciccarello - 13 G, Chase Peterson - 9 G, Dominick Harshany - 9 G

Top 3 assist-makers: Chase Peterson - 13 A, Payne Peterson - 5 A, Dominick Harshany - 5 A

Goalie wins:  Alex Aldazabal: 3 

Top 3 ground ball players: Nick Zito - 21 GB, Michael Ciccarello - 16 GB, Kevin Fernandez - 12 GB

3 underclassmen to watch: Carson Cates, Joe Heikkenen, Payne Peterson

 

Sickles boys’ lacrosse program has received contributions from the youngest to most veteran players. Captain Michael Ciccarello has continued to display exceptional finishing skills with 5 goals in a district game against Freedom. Senior Josh Powell is only playing his first year of lacrosse but has already found the back of the net several times this season, while freshmen Payne Peterson opened his varsity career with a hat trick and 1 assist against Bloomingdale.

 

Bloomingdale Bulls


Season record thus far: 1-4

District record thus far: 1-2

Top 3 scorers: Evan Knapp, Cade McCarron, Andrew Mellon-Lynn

Top 3 assist-makers: Evan Knapp, Cade McCarron, Brendan Henning

Goalie wins: Joel Papineau 1

Top 3 ground ball players: Brendan Henning, Evan Knapp, Jackson Pepe

3 underclassmen to watch: Cade McCarron - FR Attack, Jackson Pepe - SO Attack,

Zach Terhorst - FR FOGO

Matthew Borowski understands his job as Bloomingdale’s new head boys lacrosse coach begins with developing and executing fundamentals. Although the team came up short against a cohesive Durant team early in the season, the coach is excited to play their district rival again to see how much the team has grown. Players who were expected to contribute have stepped up, but Evan Hydock embodied what coach Borowski hopes to develop with the Bulls program. The sophomore took his first career faceoff with his team down 2 men and battled to win a team possession versus three opponents. Junior Joel Papineau has never played goalie in his life, but is vastly improving each day and earned his first career win against Tampa Bay Tech

 

Alonso Ravens

Season record thus far: 3-3

District record thus far: 0-2

Top scorers: Andrew Lewis (13 goals), Cameron Gyselinck (11 Goals)

Top assist-makers: Jake Donovan (5 assists) Cameron Gyselinck (5 assists)

Goalie wins: Hunter Ackerman 3 wins

Top 3 ground ball players: Kyle Freiermuht (18 GB) Jake Donovan (11 GB) Evan Ponssa (11 GB)

3 underclassmen to watch: Jake Donovan (FR) Kyle Freiermuht (SO) Jake Mcdevitt (SO)

 

The Ravens are off to a great start, with goalie Hunter Ackerman earning 3 early season wins and recording an assist on a cross-field run against Tampa Prep. Freshmen have also provided a key spark with Jake Donovan leading the team in assists and Dante Mendez proving valuable with a masterful faceoff technique.

 

Robinson Knights

Season record thus far: 2-4

District record thus far: 1-2

Top 3 scorers: Nate Howard, Bennett Spence, Drew Verez 

Top 3 assist-makers: Drew Verez, Nate Howard, Josh Hernandez

Goalie wins: Ryan Zesiger (2 wins)

Top 3 ground ball players: Bennett Spence, Sean Piontek, 

3 underclassmen to watch: Alden Boussy, Nate Howard, Steven Sargeant

 

Head coach Eric Smithers emphasizes player development and receiving contributions from across the roster. The team has shown massive development, as the Knights have matched their goal total from 2016 in just six games. After two close losses to Alonso and Tampa Prep there is plenty of optimism brewing around Robinson, especially as the program learns how to win and finish games. 

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Steinbrenner Lady Warriors Deep & Talented Yet Again
by posted 01/24/2017


Steinbrenner is Ready to Rise in 2017

Steinbrenner High School girls varsity lacrosse program has been recognized as one of the most consistent programs in Hillsborough County, even since its adolescent days as a club organization. In 2017 the Lady Warriors will display their depth, with 11 returning seniors ready to lead the program to another District 16 title and state playoff aspirations.

Head coach Ed Kay understands his team’s exceptional roster talent from top to bottom and knows that everyone who steps on the field will make their contributions:

“We don’t have individual superstars, we’re basically a team that plays really well together. All of these seniors have played with each other for at least 3 years.”

Lauren Ransdell is widely considered the top female goalie across Hillsborough County and her experienced leadership from the back line will establish the high level of communication the Lady Warriors hope to have during the upcoming season.

Ransdell has several veteran leaders in front of her with the highly talented senior trio of Macey Soltis, Morgan Ulvenes and Kiley Heath. These three are all proven players that will have the opportunity to become one of the regions strongest defensive units.

The talent continues to the midfield, as Kendyl Hand earned All-County honors a season ago. Alongside her is Wellesley College commit Michelle Graham, who has proven throughout the years to be one of the most consistent talents in the Lady Warriors lineup.

There are several veteran attackers up front, providing the Lady Warriors with a deep set of scorers that will put high stress on opposing defenses. Belmont Abbey College signee Eva Stahlschmidt will provide leadership, but Coach Kay knows this is a deep group that will see contributions from all attackers.  

With it being Hillsborough County’s fourth season as lacrosse being a FHSSA varsity-sanctioned sport, this upcoming senior class is as strong as it has ever been across the region. The Lady Warriors have a deep set of proven talent that will certainly transcend into a memorable season for both its program and outstanding 2017 senior class. 

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Newsome Girls Ready to Push the Pace
by posted 01/03/2017


Newsome Has a Deep Team in 2017

Despite any player turnover from previous seasons, Newsome Girls coaches Frank Lanuto and Chris Crusey expect their teams to constantly play fast-paced and fill up the scoreboard. After losing 4 seniors from the 2016 season, the coaches are eager to see the talent ready to step up and fill the void to maintain the Lady Wolves spot as a top contender in their district.

“It is interesting, we lost 4 senior starters, obviously impact players,” says Coach Crusey. “But we already have younger players ready to step up and are anticipating contributions from experienced upperclassmen to the new players that are coming in.”

Maya Usher has proven herself as one of the elite talents in the region and the Central Connecticut State University signee will be expected to carry a high-octane offense. Usher has displayed her cutting-edge skills throughout the years, but will welcome sophomore transfer and Jacksonville University commit Grace Hopson, who the coaches are excited to see fill in with the attacking unit.

Two college-bound players give Newsome hope that they can fully embrace their program’s aggressive offensive philosophy:

“We score a lot of goals, we preach athleticism and like to get out fast,” says Crusey. “We will constantly be looking to pick up the pace.”

Sidney Rintoul and Amana Richardson are stalwarts for the Lady Wolves defense, but the coaches emphasize that depth is necessary in the back-end, and that is where young role players may be able to make their biggest impact on Newsome’s 2017 season.

Two developing goaltenders will battle for the opportunity to lead the Lady Wolves from the back line. Madison Abdoni and Molly Battershell have seen marked improvement since the conclusion of last season and the coaches are looking forward to see some exciting and solid play from the tandem. 

One thing the Lady Wolves will preach in 2017 is depth and receiving contributions from each player that takes the field. With some of the county’s top-end talent returning and players set to emerge during this season, Newsome should continue its strong run of being one of Hillsborough County’s most successful programs.

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Dynamic Midfield Trio Expected to Carry Durant Girls
by posted 12/14/2016


Casey Decatur is one of 3 Lady Cougars college commits

District zoning can provide limitations for certain public high schools to collect a wide net of talent to choose from, meaning that player development is key from improving skills during the season to field sprint conditioning in early fall.  Head coach Kiara Klingler has learned this during her tenure leading Durant Lady Cougars, emphasizing the programs need to work harder than their competition during the offseason:

“My main focus with the program right now is top-end conditioning and recruiting players. We came in fourth [in districts] during our first season, then third, and finished second last year. We continue to play a lot harder each season.”

Pushing the pace of that steadily increasing progress has been behind the dynamic play of all-senior midfield hybrid trio consisting of Casey Decatur, Ally Louden and Beth Farrell. With plenty of experience and leadership, the trio sets the standard for how the Lady Cougars operate through all phases of the game.

Two college-bound players spearhead the Lady Cougars’ attack with Louden set to continue her career at Florida Southern while Decatur moves to St. Bonaventure. The two are a tandem to be reckoned with in the attacking third; establishing chemistry that only can be developed with time, repetition and pure talent.

While those two line up in the midfield the majority of the time, their job is to mainly shoot balls in the back of the net. Fellow senior leader and midfield hybrid Elizabeth Farrell is in place to clean up any thing that flows over to the defensive end. The North Greenville University college commit sets the physical tone for the Lady Cougars and will be asked to guide and teach a very young group of players ready to lead Durant’s defense this season.

Three college commits is an extraordinary accomplishment for a public high school program, and what those girls are set to achieve during their futures cannot be overlooked, but coach Klingler knows first-hand how much more the sport will continue to grow as exposure increases:

“When I first started playing, it was Newsome club (known as Fish Hawk), and people had no idea what it was and I constantly had to explain what the team and even sport was,” explained Klingler.

“Now it has grown so much and girls wear their gear at school and people congratulate them.”

The 2017 squad is utilizing off-season conditioning and skill training to minimize the gap that lost them a chance for a district title a season ago, which will hopefully help earn the Lady Cougars first ever District 14 championship.

 


HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

 

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Robinson Boys Hope Development Pays Off
by posted 12/13/2016


The Knights Need to Become Cohesive

Head coach Eric Smithers started Robinson boy’s lacrosse as a club program over 7 years ago, understanding that his school’s proximity limited him from inheriting established talent that are present across other areas of the county. The Knights utilize a homegrown approach, taking students that arrive at the school as freshmen, and developing them over time with the hope that they can be lead contributors when they become upperclassmen:

“That’s the hope this year, as the bulk of my senior class started playing lacrosse the first year Robinson went varsity,” says Smithers. “The success of this season will hinge on whether they will self-actualize on the field. However, it’s also contingent on the wave of new players that will be trying out this spring. The level of competition presented from this is encouraging.”

After being sidelined due a lacerated kidney for most of 2016, senior and 4-year starting goaltender Ryan Zesiger is expected to set the communication level from the back. The Knights face heavy defensive turnover but assistant coaches Mike Santoro and Rick Warner, formerly coaches at Tampa Bay Tech, have worked diligently with the young group. Coach Smithers lauds their work:

“We have a young defense but it will most likely turn out to be a cornerstone on this program. The competition for a starting spot is very heavy at this point. Mike and Rick have done a great job this fall developing our new defensive players into a very confident group of guys.”

Zach Iseler was cut from the varsity program during his freshman year and has made Coach Smithers regret that choice ever since. Although he will line up to take face-offs and be expected to set the tone for the entire team through his midfield play, Coach Smithers identifies the need to develop a deep set of talent that can sustain the brute force of competition the Knights will endure this season.

The Knights will more than likely put out the shortest attacking unit in the county this season, but the group has also had plenty of experience together, making them a shifty and dynamic unit that should be able to shift defenses. Bennett Spence is a raw talent that led the team in scoring a season ago, but the coaches have been working meticulously on improving his shot selection and locating the best spots for him to be on the field.

Zesiger, Iseler and Bennett are all best friends off the field, but their cohesive leadership will set the tone for the Knights 2017 season. However it goes, coach Smithers could not be more excited about how much growth he has seen across the county, but acknowledges there are strides to be made for sustainable success:

“As a product of Tampa Bay high school lacrosse (I played for Clearwater while a student at Dunedin High School), interest in the game is higher than I’ve ever seen. But the disparity in the youth game is what’s holding back smaller programs like mine. The most successful programs are the ones that have a youth pipeline. Those without one are always clawing for talent, and a chance to survive.” 


HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

 

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Alonso Girls Hope to Capitalize on Returning Talent
by posted 12/07/2016


Lady Ravens are Constantly Improving

Fielding a team consisting of mostly underclassmen players can lead to some stressful moments for coaches, but the idea of those players growing into something special is what keeps the drive alive. After a tumultuous few seasons, Alonso girls lacrosse program returns over 75% of a squad that is looking to make some noise across Hillsborough County.

Head coach Kara Funcheon has always enjoyed her role at Alonso, but sees 2017 as a breakout season for the Lady Ravens:

“We have lots of players returning, a group that has played together for a while. I love coaching my girls but there are certainly high expectations for this season."

Recently signing her National Letter of Intent to play lacrosse at George Mason University, senior Holliston Wagner is widely considered as not only the leader of the Lady Ravens, but one of the most dynamic talents in Hillsborough County. Her well-developed skills and top-end athleticism should make her senior season a memorable one before taking on the challenge of Division I collegiate lacrosse.

We have discussed in previous team previews the high ceiling the sport of lacrosse has in western Florida, and the Lady Ravens have some players to prove the progressive growth. Sophomore goaltender Aliyah Boyle and junior defensemen Angie Mevorah will be representing Israel’s under-19 year team during this winter break at an international tournament. Boyle volunteered to try out for goalie when she went out for the team last year and now she is receiving college interest from programs around the country. Just as impressive, Merovah never played the game before last season and is now not only considered Alonso’s top defensemen but also is representing her nation at the international level.

The Lady Ravens are excited about their immense growth over previous seasons, but coach Funcheon understands the important values her seniors have instilled for her program:

“The past four seasons have been amazing, it was exciting to have players with me for several seasons. It is going to be bittersweet to see my babies go after they graduate.”

However, coach Funcheon has to be excited for not only this upcoming season, but also the entire future of her program, as top-end talent has emerged across the field from athletes who may not have even considered lacrosse just a couple years ago.  

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Newsome Boys Looking to Reload and Defend District Title
by posted 12/05/2016


The Wolves will be Hungry in 2017

Many programs would be devastated after losing 12 players from the prior season, but three-time defending District 14 champions Newsome boy’s program will face its second straight season losing a dozen players from a championship squad. However, the standard has been set and head coach Eric Blackburn expects his team to reload for another winning season:

“We continue to make the state playoffs and that’s the expectation. However, this season is a little more open and it will be competitive just to make the team.”

Scoring against the Wolves will be difficult for opponents, as Newsome returns an all-senior starting defense led by Christian Avalos, Simon Frank and Logan Patterson. The trio has plenty of experience playing together as a unit and if previous seasons are any indication, opposing offenses will need to be physically prepared to run into several brick walls before seeing net.

Connor Florich and Andrew Simonson were utilized around the midfield a season ago, but due to high turnover on offense, these two are expected to carry a growing pool of talent blossoming at Newsome. Coach Blackburn has seen what these guys can do and knows what to expect, but the coach is also keen on the fact new players will emerge as stars in 2017:

“There are lots of opportunities for kids to step up. Everyone around the county should be improved, there’s a lot of parody in this district.”

The Wolves clearly boast a strong team in 2017 that should compete with anyone, but the head coach in Lithia understands the strides being made at lacrosse programs across Hillsborough County:

“Every game will be competitive, whatever team works the hardest will win the district, and each time we step on the field we will be in for a battle.”

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

 

 

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Sickles Girls Prepare for a Big 2017 Season
by posted 12/02/2016


Lady Gryphons are Prepared to Battle

Head coach Jon Moseman has seen plenty of growth over the years from his Sickles Girl’s lacrosse program, accrediting his team for constantly improving season to season and competing each game. However, there are always major years for every program, where there is an opportunity to break through due to a dynamic mix of senior leadership, returning talent and past experience, and this may be the year at Sickles.

Six seniors are set to lead a Lady Gryphons program that is looking to take their mix of experience and talent to a championship level. Coach Moseman expects these seniors to take leadership early and set the tone for some difficult early season games:

“We are really looking forward to getting going in January. We have some tough early tests in the beginning of the year that will really show where we are as a program.”

Megan Mulroe and Hannah Cohen have been leaders in the Sickles attacking third for several varsity seasons, and there are high expectations for the duo to carry the scoring load in 2017. Along with fellow senior Emily Gardner, the Lady Gryphons should boast one of the strongest offenses in Hillsborough County that is sure to fill the score sheet.

The experience continues on the back end, as senior Marissa Lacagnina and junior Lauren McGuire return to lead a defense that will be required to help transition the ball up field. The Lady Gryphons are thin at midfield but will need players to step up and make a difference in order to feed the dynamic offense in place.

Expectations should be high in Citrus Park this season, as both Sickles programs are led by strong senior leadership and returning experience that will surely compete with teams across the county. For the Lady Gryphons, upperclassmen are in a position to leave this program in a much better place than when they began four years ago, perhaps making 2017 the biggest season in program history.

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Bloomingdale Boys Seeking Steady Growth
by posted 11/29/2016


Crawling, walking and running: usually this is a cycle associated with maturing infants, but today we are going to apply the phrase to a high school lacrosse program. Bloomingdale lacrosse is considered young even by HALAX standards, as the program has played two full seasons at the varsity level, with many players never having even stepped onto a lacrosse field prior to spring tryouts.

Now that the foundation has been laid, new boy’s head coach Matthew Borowski is preparing to take the Bulls from the crawling stage to putting the pieces together for a winning program that can eventually run alongside any opponent in Hillsborough County.

After growing up in the highly competitive New Jersey high school lacrosse hotbed, as well as playing at the club level at University of Rhode Island, Coach Borowski is ready to teach the game to high level athletes that simply have never thought about picking up a lacrosse stick.

“I just want to teach and grow the game the right way. I know we have guys that are focused on looking to improve. I commend the upperclassmen for their work this offseason, as I contacted a friend from Rhode Island who runs a fitness studio, and the kids have been strict to the conditioning program.”

One senior who has really stepped up is Evan Knapp, who can be expected to create opportunities across the field. Although he lines up as an attacker, Knapp is an exceptional athlete that can cover midfielders as they transition down the field and his tenacious play will set the tone for his teammates this season.

Things will not be easy for opponents facing Bloomingdale’s defense, as Paul Dobler and Sam Skinner are two big bodies that will be sure to be as physical as any defense in Hillsborough County. Discipline will be necessary for this tandem as they learn how to operate alongside many newly experienced players in Valrico.

“It is tough breaking down some of the barriers, but the sport is growing in the area,” says Borowski. “It’s small but growing, and you can see that there are more guys coming out for each information meeting. Now, we need guys that continue to play in summer and fall ball, and coaches that are dedicated to the same end goal as the players.”

It is amazing to think what can happen as the sport of lacrosse continues to grow across Hillsborough County and the western Florida region, when players can be groomed from a young age to play year round and compete with anyone in the nation.

“It’s a challenge, but we want to grow the right way and create a culture.”

One day, these Bulls will run.

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

 

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15 Seniors Set to Lead the Way for Durant Boys
by posted 11/18/2016


Senior leadership has been a common theme during the HALAX team preview series, but no team in Hillsborough County may be more experienced than the Durant boys program led by 15 savvy seniors. This is a big year for the Cougars, and head coach Andrew Madden knows it, acknowledging that Durant wants to build more than just a winning program:

“We want to make lacrosse like spring football. We are looking to create a culture at Durant and make it something big for our school and fans.”

Alex Cordero is widely discussed as one of the top goaltenders in Hillsborough County, and coach Madden expects his level of play to continue to climb:

“He has all the tools. The most impressive thing about him is that he has stepped up his level of play each year, and I expect that to happen again this season.”

The defense faces the biggest turnover from a year ago for the Cougars, but Nick Albano is expected to set the standard for the rest of the long poles:

“He is a monster lockdown defender, but we need others to step up. We have some big holes to fill from last year.”

Max Griffith and Cameron Spare have emerged as leaders in the midfield during fall conditioning. Griffith embodies leading by example, proving his worth in previous seasons as a defensive force that sets the tone for how the team operates on both sides of the ball.  Spare is more of a late-bloomer, but expect him to fill the score sheet and play forward acting as basically the team’s fourth attacker.

There is a plethora of talent returning for the Cougars in the attacking third, as Richie Nelson led the team in points as a sophomore and Mitchell Tyler returns from injury after posting over 20 points in just six games played last year.

“Richie’s skills are so good, he makes up from any size or strength limitations with determination and heart,” says Madden. “And we are very excited to have Mitchell Tyler back, who is a big time talent that produced a lot of points in limited action a season ago.”

The pieces are in place for Durant to capture a district championship and expand their program like never before. Don’t expect anyone to intimidate the Cougars in 2017, as their large group of seniors will look to blaze the trail for a program looking to build an immersive and successful culture at Cougar Path.

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Plant Girls Looking to Stay on Top
by posted 11/15/2016


Delaney Turton Ready to Lead the Lady Panthers

Most teams would falter when they lose two key players to injury early in the season; including rising junior attacker and Manhattan College commit Grace Owens. However, Plant High School girls’ lacrosse is no ordinary program, as the Lady Panthers were led by the experience of 11 seniors to earn their third consecutive undefeated regular season in 2016.

Now a healthy senior, Owens will be set to lead a new wave of talent that will step in and look to continue the Lady Panther’s dominance over Hillsborough County. With over 20 incoming freshmen preparing to vie for a selective 25 roster spots, expect there to be a deep pool of talent blossoming on South Himes Avenue.

Head coach Jayne Chapman is excited to have such an openly competitive group to work with leading up to the season and expects her team to push each other forward everyday:

“It’s exciting for players to have the opportunity and earn a starting role. 25 spots are available, not 11. Everyone has to earn a spot.”

Producing results from previous seasons will help separate a player from other competition, and Delaney Turton has proven a force to be reckoned in previous seasons. Along with Owens, these two are bound to produce some dynamic offensive play, as well as guide and lead a young group that will look to fill their shoes after their departure.

The Lady Panthers’ midfield is completely reloaded from a season ago, as Lexi Ashby, Mara Guluzian, and Bonnie Sopher are set to lead a talented group. Coach Chapman lauds Ashby for her “tremendous growth’” since her middle school years and believes that Guluzian and Sopher can utilize their varsity experience to set the tone for new incoming players.

Defenseman Hannah Diasi has learned plenty through her varsity lacrosse experience, but will be leaned on to provide as much guidance and leadership than any of the upperclassman aforementioned. The Lady Panthers have several open spots on the back end and will need a rising star to help uphold the high standard their defense has set over the years.

The Plant Lady Panthers lacrosse program has consistently maintained an elite position in Hillsborough County, and although there are experienced upperclassmen ready to battle this spring, Coach Chapman welcomes the challenge of implementing new players into the fold:

“We will be lucky to have a lot of new talent. It is neat for the coaching staff to build a team. That being said, we will be the team that plays and wins the right way, with the highest level of sportsmanship.”

*Another Note: Congratulations to Plant Girl’s Lacrosse assistant coach Marissa Higgins for being named IWLCA’s Division II assistant of the year for her role at Florida Southern! We can’t thank you enough for your extra effort in helping us continue to grow the game in Hillsborough County.

 

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Sickles Boys Ready to Take Next Step
by posted 11/09/2016


Gryphons are Set for a Big Season

Sickles boys’ lacrosse program has consistently grown since the sport has become varsity sanctioned by the FHSAA in 2014, developing some of the steadiest local talent in Hillsborough County. However, the 2017 team is one that is looking to take their program to another level and immerse themselves within the upper echelon of the regions ever-growing pool of talent.

Three seniors and 15 juniors provide this team with a significant opportunity to achieve greatness this season. Along with new head coach Joseph Kuebrich, the Gryphons are determined to use their team’s experience to catalyze a winning season and earn the program a District 16 championship.

This team is built from the back, as two of the team’s three seniors look to anchor a formidable defense. Captain Kevin Fernandez has been a leader for this program during his high school career and understands the potential the program has to take that next step:  

“I plan to lead our team to success by demonstrating the character and determination you need to win,” says Fernandez. “As far as my expectations for myself I expect to hold my own against any attackman in our district, and to bring home no less than a district title. I also hope to reclaim my spot as ‘Ground Ball King’ from last year and lead the team in ground balls, because like all coaches say, groundballs win games.”

Sickles also welcomes a pleasant addition to their senior leadership, as defenseman Chris Zito joins the program for his senior season after moving from up north. Zito is just beginning to learn about his teammates and how they play the game, but realizes the significant role the defense will provide this upcoming season:

“I would like the defense to light the fire under the rest of the team and bring the momentum to the rest of the players on the field through hustle, aggressive play and physicality.”

Expect this team to embrace a physical style of play, as the Gryphons have two of the county’s best ball-hawking midfielders in Chase Peterson and Michael Ciccarello. Says Peterson, “My mindset on a defensive driven team would be to play solid, hard defense and play physical.  Playing physical can get in the offense's head and will give you a psychological advantage over the other team. Play physical but play smart and don't take dumb penalties.” Ciccarello hopes to be the spark plug on offense and use his laser shot from the outside to slide defenses and create extra opportunities for his teammates around the goal.

Coach Kuebrich sees a lot of potential for this program and is excited to work with such a talented group during his first season at the helm:

“We are a fundamentally driven team, embracing a defensively minded style of play, with a patient and opportunistic offense.”

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Expectations Still Sky High for Steinbrenner Boys
by posted 11/07/2016


2016 District 16 Champions

After the program's first District 16 championship and an impressive 2016 season, the Steinbrenner boys’ lacrosse team hopes to reload their arsenal and return to prominence during the 2017 campaign.  Head coach John Kuebrich and the Warriors return some top-end talent, but also will welcome 13 incoming freshmen to the roster. After coming close to making an impact in the state tournament a season ago, the Warriors hope to finally get over the hump and establish themselves as not only Hillsborough County’s but amongst Florida’s top high school lacrosse programs.

Coach Kuebrich has worked with his Steinbrenner team for several years since his move from Long Island, New York and he sees a massive opportunity for the program to take that next step.

“We came down from Long Island a few years ago to show the game and to teach all three phases: attacking, midfield and defense. We’ve shown great progress since becoming a varsity program, but we just need a few more big wins at seasons end. We keep getting to the playoffs which is great, but we can’t get that big one.”

The Warriors shouldn’t be too worried about how they are going to find the back of the net, as the team returns two exemplary attackmen in seniors Carson Kaleo and Ricky Melvin. Coach Kuebrich calls Kaleo: “the most balanced player on the team, has amazing eyes,” and noted that Melvin has owned some of the state’s most distinct lacrosse awards, earning a spot on the All-Western team as a sophomore and junior.

The defense is anchored by junior defensemen Alex Lopez, who Kuebrich claims is “one of the best defensemen we’ve ever had.” Moreover, Parker Kaleo, brother of Carson, is an experienced defensemen that has been a stalwart for the Warriors back-end for several seasons. Lopez and Kaleo are even-keeled long poles that should help a Warriors defense that faces some turnover from a season ago.

There are still plenty of opportunities for new faces to make an impact, especially in the midfield, where the head coach “needs someone to step up and take over a game.” With only 5 seniors on this team and 13 new freshmen, expect there to be a rising star in Lutz this season for a team that will need to have quick transition throughout the midfield.

There are certainly high expectations at Steinbrenner for the 2017 season, and Coach Kuebrich is excited to have this group together in the spring.

“We had a good fall and have a group that is buying in. You know guys are ready when they are all handing in their athletic packages on time.”

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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Senior Leaders Look to Make a Mark for Robinson Girls
by posted 11/02/2016


Big Year Ahead for the Lady Knights

Coach Ashriel West and the Robinson Girls Lacrosse team are coming off an impressive 2016 campaign that continued the programs ascent into Hillsborough County’s elite. After being narrowly defeated in the district playoffs by a Tampa Catholic team they had beaten previously during the regular season, the Lady Knights hope to maintain their winning ways in 2017 behind the leadership of the team’s 11 returning seniors.  

Leading the charge are senior attackers Alexa Keeler and Carolina Cassidy, who both have extensive varsity experience to help lead Robinson to another successful season. This dynamic duo will lead a steady attack that Coach West hopes will translate into a high-octane offense. “We are going to need to score a lot this year, as our most experienced players are on the offensive side and we will be introducing a whole new defensive end.” 

Keeler and Cassidy will be depended on to carry a heavy scoring load, as the Lady Knights face heavy attrition on the defensive side of the ball. Expect there to be new faces in net as well with 3 freshmen set to battle for the starting goaltending position. Despite some uncertainty, Coach West is optimistic that this group will be able to become a cohesive unit and compete with anyone throughout the season.

“This is such a large group that know what is expected of them. If they want it, they’ll get better. This group certainly has the dedication.”

With such a strong senior core and plenty of room to continue to grow, there will be high expectations for a program that has established a high standard of winning. The Lady Knights are absolutely a team to keep an eye on as we begin to prepare for another exciting lacrosse season.

 

HALAX will be issuing team previews for each boys and girls team playing varsity lacrosse in Hillsborough County leading up to the start of the season in January. Please follow us on Facebook (facebook.com/halaxinfo), Twitter (@halaxinfo), and our organization’s website (halax.org) to stay up to date on everything lacrosse in Hillsborough County. 

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