The offenses for Ponte Vedra and Nease found their rhythm in the second half of the District 2-2A boys lacrosse championship, and it was the Sharks that set the pace en route to a 12-7 victory April 13.
The Sharks led 4-1 at halftime, as both defenses and goaltenders reigned supreme during the first half.
“They (Nease) have a great goalie in (senior) Gavin Koors, and it can be deflating when you get good looks after good looks and the goalie just keeps making saves,” Ponte Vedra head coach Chris Polanski said.
However, the teams combined to score 14 goals in an explosive second half that saw the Sharks secure the district title behind strong offensive outings from juniors Corey Bloss and Maddox Johnson, who help anchor the Sharks’ “lightning line.”
“Coach did a great job before the season of putting all the big guys on a line and all the smaller guys on another line,” Johnson said. “We call it ‘thunder and lightning,’ and both lines are really bonding, and it’s developed some strong connections.”
What makes the lightning line so dangerous is the speed that each player possesses across the field, which presents problems for opposing defenses.
“Corey and Maddox have been playing together since they were very young, and much like other players on the team, they can be very streaky,” Polanski said. “When they are feeling it, it’s like ‘oh my gosh.’ It is fun when those two get in their groove.”
Despite being only up by three goals at the halftime break, the Sharks knew that if they continued to play their game the shots would begin to find the back of the net.
“We had a lot of open shots in the first half, but they just weren’t landing,” Johnson said. “With every shot we take, we’re calibrating, and finally our shots started landing and we were able to pull ahead.”
While Koors did his part to keep the Panthers in the game by making some great saves, it was senior Nolan Parlette who was up to the challenge at the other end as well.
“We’re very fortunate where we have two of the best goalies in the state,” Polanski said. “Nolan is our senior leader and our rock. We can really suck the air out of teams when Nolan is just snatching up passes left and right and able to turn and hit someone 60 yards on a rope up the field and generate offense. Nolan is just a special player.”
The Sharks will need that reliable play in goal moving forward if they hope to make a deep postseason run, as they will be sure to face some potent offenses along the path.
Leading the stingy defensive effort for the Sharks in the title game was senior Joey Luczak, who were able to stay in system and hold their ground even when the Panthers were able to push back and cut into the lead during the second half.
Winning the district title provided a sense of redemption and relief, especially for the senior class, after the Sharks lost in overtime in the championship against Creekside a year ago.
“This game was definitely one of our best performances,” Luczak said. “We were all over the field with our heads on a swivel. I think we’ve really come together with our communicating and are just really playing as one.”
Luczak believes that the district title could be the start of something special for the Sharks.
“I came to Ponte Vedra my sophomore year with my best friend, and our goal was to win a state championship every year,” Luczak said. “Sophomore year got cut short by COVID and last year was cut short in districts, so now this year I’m really just ready to get after it.”
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