Naples, Gulf Coast girls capture titles; Gulf Coast boys upset Riverview7 min read
A roundup of three lacrosse games played on Thursday, April 14:
Class 1A-District 12
Naples 20, Barron Collier 5
It had been a long time coming for Naples.
In 2020, the Golden Eagles had state title aspirations before COVID-19 shut down the season. In 2021, Naples fell well short against a loaded CSN team that advanced to the 1A Final Four.
In 2022 though, it was meant to be. Naples handled business against Barron Collier, winning 20-5 in the Class 1A-District 12 title game and punching their ticket back to the playoffs after a three-year hiatus.
“What’s so special about being able to witness something like this is these girls have been together since they were freshmen,” Naples coach Jayson Saunders said. “This group has been together as a whole since seventh grade. To be able to do it with kids that have been together, been a part of the Naples High School family for years, that’s the most special thing to do.
“This is the most beautiful team sport, and this team right here epitomizes what a team is. Even with all the struggles they’ve been through, they’ve been able to overcome a lot, and I’m so, so, so incredibly happy and proud of them.”
Barron Collier opened the scoring early, with Tiffany Breuler getting the Cougars on the board first. Naples then held Barron scoreless for the final 20:26 of the first half, taking a 10-2 lead at the break.
“What’s so funny about that, is that we always say with the program, ‘draws win possession, ground balls win games, defense wins championships’,” Saunders added. “At the end of the day, that’s something we were able to grow into as the season progressed. We didn’t have our 12 normal girls on the field until three quarters of the way into the season.
“Because we were able to get into that stride and put a lot of focus on our defense, it’s a testament to what the identity and the DNA of this team is really about. We’re not just goal scorers. Everything is going to be based on what we can do defensively moving forward.”
Princeton signee Lane Calkins eclipsed the 200 goal mark in her career during the second half, stretching the Naples lead to 13-4. She ended the day with a game-high eight goals, bringing her total to 203.
“She’s a wonderful kid, and I’ll always characterize Lane in this fashion: It’s nothing that she does on the lacrosse field that amazes me, it’s the incredibly high character that she has off the field as well,” Saunders said. “Being a teacher in the school and seeing how she maneuvers through the hallways with her friend groups, what she’s able to do overall and as a leader, a part of this team specifically. She’s an incredible role model for these middle school girls coming up to follow.”
Calkins and her teammates remembered the CSN loss fondly that ended their season, and were destined to overcome it, regardless of the opponent.
“It’s definitely a big moment for a team,” Calkins added. “It’s something that we set our sights on after the big loss to CSN last year. That turned everyone around and made them focus that this is the moment that we all wanted to work for next year. I couldn’t be happier for my senior year for everyone to dial in and work towards something as big as this.”
Aside from Calkins, Braidy Bouchard finished with four goals, while Georgia Kent added a hat trick. Sienna Wyatt and Sarah Slugh both added a pair, and Julie Sanders chipped in another. In the loss for Barron, Breuler had a hat trick, while Annabelle Cialone and Logan Jones had one apiece.
Naples is looking like it will be a No. 2 seed in Region 3, behind Out-of-Door, 14-13 winners over Saint Stephen’s. Barron Collier entered as the No. 8 seed in the region, but Lely and CSN are all within five spots of each other (62nd, 64th, 69th), thus putting the Cougars on the bubble of making the playoffs.
— Alex Martin
Class 2A-District 12
Gulf Coast 17, Venice 7
After falling to Venice 16-15 in last year’s district title game, Gulf Coast sophomore Kali Cleary did not want to relive another heartbreaker to the same team.
Cleary was given the opportunity to try and tie the game, but couldn’t convert. That ended the Sharks’ playoff chances in 2021, prompting her to wonder what could’ve been during the offseason.
This time around, Cleary and the Sharks avenged that loss, as Gulf Coast captured their first district title since 2019 with a 17-7 win over Venice.
“I had the ball with the last 20 seconds of the game last year and I couldn’t score,” Cleary said about last year’s loss. “Winning this game really meant a lot.”
“I’m just proud of the kid and the way the girls played tonight, they left it all on the field,” Sharks coach Lynn Garrison said. “Started out slow, but finished strong and couldn’t have asked for a better effort from all of them.”
Thirteen minutes into the matchup, the Sharks found themselves down 2-0, as they did in last year’s matchup against Venice. That forced Garrison called a timeout to regroup her team, with her son, assistant coach Bo Garrison, delivering the message in the team huddle.
“He’s my assistant coach and he just told them you got to hit the cage,” Garrison said. “This is not us, this is not how we play, just go out there and you do you.”
The message resonated with the team and they turned the game around in short order. Leading the comeback for the Sharks were Cleary and junior Peyton Davidson. During a 16-second span, Cleary netted three goals which gave Gulf Coast a 6-3 lead heading into the half.
“I was like I have to get up off my butt I, got to bring this team back and we have to get back these goals,” Cleary said. “Once I got that rhythm down, I was like now I can give it to other people, and they can do what they will with it and we can perform as a team really well now.”
Davidson, a finalist for The News-Press/Naples Daily News Girls Lacrosse Player of the Year last season, would lead the charge in the second half, scoring seven of her 10 goals in the final 25 minutes, closing the door on any Venice comeback bid.
“It feels so great to just know that we beat Venice and it’s an amazing feeling to have,” Davidson said. “It was like an unapproachable obstacle for the last few years and to overcome it as a team feels way better than any personal win.”
“The two of them have throughout the season been our two highest goal scorers in each game,” Garrison said of Davidson and Cleary. “They’re reliable and they have a knack for the cage.”
The Sharks will now advance and host a regional quarterfinal matchup in a loaded 2A-Region 3 class, likely to be against Tampa Plant in a 4 vs. 5 matchup.
“We’re just going to keep on working harder every day,” Cleary said. “Monday is a new start.”
— Izubee Charles
Class 2A-District 12
Gulf Coast 8, Riverview 5
Gulf Coast knew going in that they needed to win to make the postseason.
After, the Sharks knew they stole a playoff bid from another team by capturing the Class 2A-District 12 title over Riverview, an 8-5 road win on Thursday.
“These kids played their hearts out,” Gulf Coast coach John Trapani said. “We never gave up, we never stopped playing. Our whole season turned around after we beat Cardinal Mooney. We beat them, and we have not looked back. We played lights out, and I couldn’t be happier. I couldn’t be prouder.
“We weren’t expected to win this. We were the underdogs. They were supposed to beat us. Coming out win the win was an amazing feeling.”
Shaden Shields was strong in goal for the Sharks, only allowing two goals the entire second half. He was a part of the success, as well as many other Gulf Coast standouts including Zach Lewis, Luke Mclain, Sam Shields, and others.
“Shaden had an outstanding game,” Trapani said. “He kept us in it.”
Gulf Coast is locked into the fourth seed and will likely host Steinbrenner in a first-round playoff game set for next week. With the loss, Riverview is on the bubble, with a fair chance at getting the eighth seed.
— Naples Daily News staff
Class 1A-District 12
Fire postpones game between Canterbury and CSN
A fire right next to the CSN campus caused Thursday’s game between the Seahawks and Canterbury to be postponed.
The fire was in close proximity to the John N. Allen Family Stadium, and the smoke was blowing to the northeast, making for unplayable conditions.
The game will be made up on Friday at CSN, with the game slated for 7:30 p.m. for the Class 1A-District 12 championship.
— Naples Daily News staff