Just as regular season, high school action in Maine is kicking off, playoffs are heating up down here in Texas. In this edition of the StickStar Report, we will take a look at some of the Division I story lines from the last couple of regular season weeks and what lies ahead in the 2013 Texas High School Lacrosse League Playoffs. Coming down the home stretch these past few weeks has really shaped the entire season as a growing sense of parity has developed within the league once again.
As always, the best match ups take place towards the end of the season. This year was no different. The top 4 teams in the North (Highland Park, Jesuit, ESD, St. Marks) have all faced off. While we have gained some greater clarity into their abilities to compete, we do not really have an idea of where the teams will finish out when it is all said and done. All of these teams made playoff runs starting on Tuesday, so let us take a look at how they arrived where they are first.
HP vs. Jesuit – In a 2012 Final 4 Rematch, Highland Park was able to outlast the #1 team in the State, Dallas Jesuit, by a score of 7-6. Highland Park was led by senior goaltender Matthew Meaders who limited the Rangers to 1 goal in the 2nd half. Highland Park has handed Jesuit their only two, in-state losses in the last 2 years.
SPC Championship – 2013’s Southwest Preparatory Conference Championships saw a familiar contest between St. Marks and ESD. ESD defeated St. Marks during the regular season for the 1 st time in its last 8 tries. St. Marks, however, is playing its best lacrosse down the stretch, and, in the Championship, it was all Lions. For St. Marks, it is all about the strength of their entire team, but junior Riley Graham, FO Mid, did an outstanding job of controlling possession the entire tournament.
St. Marks vs. HP – After successful outings by these two respective squads the week before, St. Marks once again demonstrated that they are playing their best lacrosse at the right time. In their final regular season contest of 2013, the Lions led from start to finish putting together a complete effort. Highland Park had a tremendous outing against Jesuit. Since that emotional victory, however, they had not put together a complete game until the playoffs started.
ESD vs. Jesuit – In the final, regular season contest of the 2013 schedule, Jesuit got after ESD early going up 7-2 at one point in the match. ESD did, however, come back late pulling to within 1 goal of Jesuit with a possession. At that point, though, Jesuit made a zone adjustment which, ultimately, led to an Eagles turnover. With this victory, Jesuit locked in the 2nd seed in the North District and first round by into the playoffs.
South & Central - While all we have discussed initially has come out of the North, the top seeds in the south and central have also been steadily moving along. Out of Houston, the Woodlands squad finished out its season undefeated at 18-0. This potent group has defeated Highland Park (1 st game of the season), Coppell, Plano West, Westlake (top seed in the Central), and everyone from the South District. While the Woodlands will not get much credit from the State until they defeat a top four, North District squad in the playoffs, there is no doubt that they can compete.
The Highlanders are athletic, offensively explosive, and stingy on defense. Finally, coming out of the Central, the Westlake Chaps have handled everyone in their district but are seeking their first statement win of the year outside of Austin. The Chaps will likely secure the Central District Championship with a win against Anderson. With that win, they will get a bye in the 1st Rd. of the playoffs.
This week there were several, play-in games that lead into the regional championships. They included:
(North District) #6 Coppell @ #3 ESD
(North District) #5 Allen @ #4 St. Marks
(South District) #6 Memorial @ #3 EHS
(South District) #5 Kingwood @ #4 HCHS
The playoff race always comes down to the wire in the Great State, and there are usually some shake ups along the way. At this point though, it looks like the top dogs are moving forward as the Final Four is now set:
Semifinal One: Highland Park vs. St. Marks
Semifinal Two: Episcopal School of Dallas vs. Jesuit
All are top squads, and anyone could take the title.
StickStar will keep you covered every step of the way, so please follow us on Twitter @StickStarLax.
In a scant week, the King will be crowned! We will provide coverage of that, too! Looking forward to it! Happy 2nd Season!