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#StickStarReport14: D1 Semi Final Preview - HP vs. ESD

05/01/2014, 10:45am CDT
By Editor

North District 2 seed vs. North District 3 seed

The Scots heading back to the Final 4 once again.

The final days of April continue to slip off the calendar and on the other side of this month awaits another Championship Weekend.  May only gets a very small portion of the season, but it is, without a doubt, the most important part.  State Championship time is pretty much awesome, and this year StickStar will cover it once again.  As we said before, StickStar will be stepping up its coverage by LIVE STREAMING the entirety of the event from D2 Semi Final to D1 State Championship and everything in between.  If you have family members or folks who would like to watch, please have them take a look at the schedule provided and pass on the link (click here).

Now that we have plugged the coverage, let us preview the match-up between Highland Park and Episcopal School of Dallas.  These two, North District powerhouses have already played once before at ESD.  There, we saw ESD come back in the second half to register a significant, North District victory.  The rivalry between ESD and HP is storied, and, once again, the two teams will challenge each other where it matters the most - in the PLAYOFFS!  Let us break down some of the highlights to this matchup:

1.  Goalie Play – While different storylines abound, one of the most crucial aspects of ESD vs. HP will be that of goalie play between two, very talented sophomores, Charlie Sikes (ESD) and Colby Kneese (HP).  Both players have weathered the regular season and the barrage of North District opponents skillfully, turning away some of the best shooters in the State.  Sikes was voted as an All-State player in this, his second, year of starting for the Eagles and was crucial in victories against St. Marks, Highland Park, and in the SPC Championship.  For HP, Kneese has appropriately filled the void left by 2013 graduating senior and All American, Matthew Meaders.  Kneese has been stellar in terms of saving and clearing the ball and will now look to begin his legacy of post season, THSLL success.  He has all the ability in the world as does Sikes.  Therefore, we are pumped to see how this battle of quality, sophomore goaltenders plays out.

2.  Double-Poling ESD – In the first matchup against the Eagles, the Scots utilized a double pole on the first line of mids, guarding Jack Beare with a short stick, and allowing for two poles to play Sam Romano and Nakeie Montgomery.  Highland Park will likely need to employ the same strategy again this weekend, although it will be tougher without the likes of UNC commit, Case Carpenter, who was injured against Coppell in the fourth quarter on April 22nd.  On behalf of the entire StickStar Family and Texas Lacrosse fans everywhere, we wish him the speediest of recoveries.  Highland Park has been greatly affected with injuries all season, but this one comes at the most difficult time of the year.  In Austin last weekend, Will Stowe was moved up to starting pole, being spelled by Alex Fronterhouse, while Cole Ogden, Carson Crow, and Remy Kell locked down the duties down low.  Cole Ogden will likely get the duty of limiting Richie Loftus, so we will see who gets the duty of going up top with Romano and Montgomery.  Playing defense down low definitely differs from playing up top.  We look forward to seeing how the capable, HP defenders fare!

Lean on him.

Tune In YA'LL!

Colby Kneese has put some big games together.

The Eagles were able to hoist the SPC Championship trophy, but they still have unfinished business.

3.  ESD Offensive Success – For the Eagles' potent offense to continue their successful ways, several options exist for generating goals.  Very few teams in the State have the number of quality options that the Eagles do, and all of them, coincidently, are in the State Championship!  As Urban Meyer has said about his teams, “We have to be versatile, so we can be multiple,” and ESD can be both.  For the Eagles to defeat this tough, senior-laden, Scots defensive unit. all players on the offensive side of the field must be involved and share the ball.  While Romano and Montgomery can certainly break a team down early in possession, Loftus is still one of the toughest covers in the league.  Loftus applies pressure to a defense a myriad of different ways, including his ability to draw attention and force a defensive unit to collapse.  As long as he can keep his feet moving once carrying the ball topside at GLE, the ability to double and dispossess him drops greatly and allows him to get his teammates involved.  When defenses shrink, it forces tough approaches back out to explosive midfielders, a great strength to the strong, carrying style of Loftus.  Needless to say, this battle between ESD O and HP D will not disappoint. 

Second Season, THSLL, State Championship Coverage is what it is all about!  This game is the first of two Semi-Finals, and, if this parity-laden, regular season is any barometer for the post season, no one is safe.  There can be only one!  As always, we WILL give you the coverage and provide a preview of the Woodlands vs. Jesuit game as well as everything picks up speed for this weekend.  See everyone in (a little place we like to call) Friendswood!

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