Eagles win first lacrosse playoff game


Oak Hall's Will Oliver (2) is congratulated by teammates after scoring one of his three goals against St. Augustine on Tuesday.

Brad McClenny / Staff photographer
Published: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:15 p.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, April 23, 2013 at 11:16 p.m.

Rick Kirschner wanted a tougher schedule this year to prepare his boys lacrosse team for the state playoffs, for moments like Tuesday's first-round play-in battle with St. Augustine.

The Yellow Jackets kept trimming the gap that the Eagles had built, and pulled within two goals with plenty of time left in the fourth. The momentum was definitely shifting, and Oak Hall, on its home field, responded.



Danny Stirt and Brad Pita each had late goals, Will Oliver had a team-leading three and Jake Kirschner tossed in two goals and had five assists as the Eagles held on to a 11-8 win, its first state playoff victory in school history.

The three-time defending district champions will get what they wanted, a rematch with state-power Ponte Vedra at Oak Hall on Friday at 7 p.m. The Sharks have dominated the Eagles the last two years, beating them 17-1 a year ago and 16-3 in 2011.

“I feel like we are a program on the rise,” Rick Kirschner said. “Ponte Vedra is a good match to see how far we have come. We hope we can pull the upset. They are a very talented team.

“We played Maclay tough and lost by two after they scored a late goal. Ponte Vedra also lost to Maclay, so that gives us hope. We welcome the opportunity to play them.”

Ahead 7-3 at the half — getting all three of Oliver's goals and two goals and four assists from Jake Kirschner — but the visiting Yellow Jackets, behind stellar play from sophomore Griffin Loughlin, didn't buckle. Twice St. Augustine (13-4) pulled within a pair of goals (8-6, 9-7), both off scores from Loughlin, who had a game-high four.

“Hats off to St. Augustine, they are a tough team, very athletic,” Rick Kirschner said. “They came to play. I'm glad we answered the bell. We had some really good offense early on and tough mid-field play. We are excited about advancing.”

The Eagles (17-1) will move on without one of their captains, senior defender Nick Sarantos, who broke his collarbone. Another senior defender, Josh Nobles, is playing hurt with a shoulder injury.

“We are a little banged up, but Cody Blair and Chad Kennedy pulled their weight when they got in the game and picked up the slack,” Rick Kirschner said. “We had a nice isolation for Brad Pita, which sort of iced the game for us. He has had a great season and is a tough kid.”

Luke Caputo and Stirt had two goals and two assists for the Eagles. Tyler Baggett also had a goal in the first half.

“I think it was great for our confidence,” said Jake Kirschner. “We have never won a regional playoff game before. Even though it was a close game, and they were a scrappy team that reminded me of us a little bit, we fought hard and fought through it.

“We lost one of best players, but we fought through it. I think that says a lot about our team. We have been in close games before, like Episcopal and Bolles, and battled back. The season helped prepare us for the playoffs. I am excited about Friday.”

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