Sharks return from spring break with route of rival Panthers

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Everything is beginning to click for the Ponte Vedra High boys lacrosse team following a convincing 17-1 road victory against rival Nease March 22.

It was the first game for both teams after spring break and Sharks’ head coach Chris Polanski was proud of the way his group responded from the layoff.

“We put our emphasis on fundamentals,” Polanski said. “The talent on our team is insane when we just slow down and play our game.”

Complementing the Sharks’ explosive offensive output was a stellar performance in goal by senior Nolan Parlette, who allowed just the one goal on the night and was seeing the ball well, whether it was snagging a shot midair or corralling a ball on a hop.

Although the Sharks were in command of the contest from the start following an 8-0 first quarter, Polanski and his squad believe they have even more potential inside of them.

“We always want to keep pushing,” Polanski said. “One of the unique things about this team is that we have two captains, but about eight to 10 leaders.”

One of those leaders is senior defensive midfielder Dylan Dean, who has experienced a difference in the makeup and feel surrounding this year’s squad.

“Chemistry is something we were missing last year,” Dean said. “There’s no classes here. Everyone does their part and we’re all moving toward a common goal.”

With the win over the Panthers, the Sharks improved to 9-2 on the season and bounced back nicely from a 14-10 loss to Roswell (Georgia) prior to spring break.

The Sharks were riding a five-game winning streak before the loss and hope that beating the Panthers will spark another run with five games remaining in the regular season.

“We always knew we’ve had it within us,” Dean said. “Our goal this year has been to bring back the fear teams across the state had for us when we won the state title in 2019.”

The Panthers’ best offensive surge of the night came when C.J. Miller made a late run down the right side and finished it off with a shot in the back of the net with two seconds left in the first half.

The goal brought the Panthers’ faithful in attendance to their feet and provided a positive to build upon despite trailing 11-1 at halftime.

However, it proved to be the lone goal for the Panthers on the night, and the second half was much of the same with the Sharks controlling possession and able to capitalize on their scoring chances.

Ponte Vedra senior Brendan Nace put an exclamation point on the night with a highlight reel goal where he drove to the net and scored using a nifty behind-the-back shot.

At halftime, the Nease athletic program presented the family of the late Brian Martin Bourke, also known as “Double B,” with a check for $7,330 that was raised through a T-shirt campaign.

Bourke passed away in November and had become a beloved member of Nease High School and the local community over the years as the school’s parking lot coordinator.

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