By Shailey Klein
The varsity boys lacrosse team is wrapping up a dominant regular season and riding commanding momentum into the postseason. Entering the district tournament as the top seed, the Eagles have its sights set high on a deep playoff run.
The Eagles finished the regular season 11-1 with a lone loss to Florida’s No. 1 ranked and the country’s No. 4 ranked Ponte Vedra Sharks (15-0). Going into the Top Ten matchup between two powerhouse boys lacrosse programs in Florida on Friday, the stage was set for a memorable evening, no matter the victor. The Eagles and Sharks entered the matchup with nearly identical scoring averages of 13.8 and 13.1, respectively. Additionally, nearly all games against common opponents resulted in scores within a few goals of each other, showcasing the similarities between the two squads.
Before the first whistle even blew for the opening faceoff, the matchup featured good-natured Twitter banter between @PVSharksLax1 and @OakHallLacrosse. There was electricity in the air pregame as both teams brought an elevated level of energy and intensity to the field.
The Sharks opened the game with two goals, but it didn’t take long for junior midfielder Michael Moreschi and sophomore attacker Luke Staab to match the score with two goals before the end of the first quarter. Moreschi tallied another goal to give the Eagles a 3-2 advantage and their first lead of the game. The Sharks quickly responded with another goal to make it 3-3 going into halftime.
Senior Ben Moraski got the second half rolling for the Eagles with a quick goal assisted by freshman Andrew Jimenez. Junior Josh Raymond stretched Oak Hall’s lead to 5-3 with another goal in the third quarter. That would be the end of the Eagles’ scoring for the night, as Ponte Vedra went on to score three unanswered goals to seal the game. The Eagles fought until the final horn went off and the scoreboard flashed 6-5 in favor of the Sharks. Emotion flooded the field after both teams gave it their all.
The Sharks brought an elite defense to the table, forcing the Eagles to learn how to play tough under pressure in a close game. “I think the game showed who could play and step up when it comes down to the wire,” Moraski stated. “It was truly a battle of who makes the least mistakes,” he added.
Being able to face a team like Ponte Vedra definitely prepared the Eagles for postseason competition. “We knew that they were one of the best teams in the state, so if we could matchup against them, then it would really show us how much of a shot we have at making it far in the postseason,” Moraski commented. The Sharks are in Class 2A, while the Eagles are in 1A, meaning the teams won’t face each other in the playoffs.
The Eagles begin district play at Menendez this week. With a first round bye, the Eagles will face the winner of Matanzas and Santa Fe in the semifinals on April 14 at 7:30 p.m. The district championship is on April 16 at 7:30 p.m.
The Eagles are taking the playoffs one game at a time. Currently ranked No. 2 in Class 1A, the Eagles see No. 1 Saint Andrew’s as one of the toughest teams to beat in the classification. “They have a stacked defense and a really good face off guy,” mentioned Moraski.
All four seniors on the boys lacrosse team have signed to play collegiate lacrosse at the next level. Division I St. Joseph’s University in Philadelphia is welcoming goalie Shayne Ryan for the 2022 season. Attacker Ben Moraski and defender Jacob Limon will be playing at Division II Flagler College and attacker Rocco Falisi will be playing at Division II Florida Southern College. The Eagles showcase plenty of young talent, allowing the sustainability of a successful program for years to come.