Hillsborough County Lacrosse Alliance
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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/

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  




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
  • Plant @ Steinbrenner - 5:00 PM
  • Celebration @ Newsome 6:00 PM
  • 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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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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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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