Eagles soar to second straight title

Oak Hall's Madison O'Leary advances the ball during Thursday's 17-5 win over Buchholz in the District 5 final.

Brett Le Blanc/Correspondent
Published: Thursday, April 18, 2013 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, April 19, 2013 at 12:18 a.m.

In only their second year playing girls lacrosse in the Florida High School Athletic Association, the Oak Hall Eagles have certainly made a mark.

On Thursday, on its field, Oak Hall ran over Buchholz 17-5 to capture its second straight District 5 championship. And leading the charge was Madison O'Leary.

Daughter of UF lacrosse coach Amanda O'Leary, who was cheering in the stands, Madison, the two-time Gainesville Sun Player of the Year, scored six goals (three in each half) with two assists.

Besides O'Leary, there were six other Eagle scorers, with senior Molly Muldoon with three goals, Kaitlyn Morse with two, seventh-grader Mason Yonge with two and freshman Avery Katz with a pair as well.

Ashley Cohrs and seventh-grader Emma Johnson also each had a goal for Oak Hall (11-5), which advances to the state playoffs.

“It's awesome,” said Eagles coach Gigi Roark. “Our first year we could not play in the district tournament because we were a club team and weren't an official varsity team. So the last two years, we have been a FHSAA team and played in two district tournaments and won them both. It has been very exciting.”

So has O'Leary's play.

Buchholz tied the match at 1-1 early, but Oak Hall went on a 7-0 run, opening it with three goals within 90 seconds, to lead and never look back. If O'Leary wasn't scoring, she was playing great defense, bringing the ball up the field and running the offense.

“Oak Hall is a really good team, and until Maddy graduates, they are are going to stay a good team,” said Buchholz coach Lynn Millinoff. “She is very hard to shut down, and if we do, she can still feed to other players on the team.”

Ahead 9-2 at the half, O'Leary scored back-to-back goals early in the second, about 30 seconds apart, for a 11-2 lead.

The Bobcats were led by Claire Murphy's two goals. Emma Kirk, Claire Riley and Savannah King also scored for Buchholz (8-8).

“Buchholz, you have to give them a lot of credit,” Roark said. “They came out so aggressive, and I thought they were really passing well. Our team rose to the occasion tonight. We played well defensively on attack. We were success in controlling their transition. They had some opportunities early and we made some adjustments.

“You are not going to shut down Maddy. She is just an exceptional player. She is going to be a star.”

The Eagles, who will likely get a bye in the regional quarterfinals on Tuesday like they did a year ago, should play next Friday in the regional semifinals. But who they will play and where it will be won't be cleared up until the first-round matches are complete.

A year ago, Oak Hall fell in the regional semifinals at St. Augustine Matanzas (12-10 in overtime).

“To come out and compete like this in our first three years is a tremendous accomplishment,” said Madison O'Leary. “It was a team effort, you can't do that (scoring six goals) without everyone else coming out and competing.

“When other people aren't threats, it's hard to get the ball, but with everyone out there being a threat, they really have to honor everyone and play everyone equally because they can't just hone in on one person when everyone is clearly a threat. We had multiple people scoring tonight.”

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