Lacrosse | Columbus

Columbus ready for ‘the next level’


With the majority of its roster returning this season, Columbus is ready to show it can compete with other elite programs in the state

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Key Dates

April 15-19: Districts; April 23: State first round play-ins

April 26: State second round play-ins

April 30: State third round play-ins

May 3-4: State finals at Winter Garden West Orange


Boys: Boca Raton St. Andrews; Girls: Vero Beach.


Attackers: Austin Abercrombie, Palmetto, Sr.; Jay Fuster, Ransom Everglades, Sr.; Brian Hernandez, Miami Country Day, Sr.; Steven Hernandez, Columbus, Sr.; Brian Lash, Ransom, Jr.; Grant Nordlund, Columbus, Sr.; Midfielders: Matt Cristobal, Belen, Sr.; Ryan Cordero, Gulliver, Jr.; David Felipe, Killian, Sr.; Jeremy Peters, Ransom, Sr.; Jared Robins, Miami Country Day, Sr.; Defenders: Ani Lovett, Ransom, Jr.; Omar Shahbaz, Columbus, Sr.; Goalkeepers: Cameron Brooks, Palmetto, Sr.; Michael Davide, Columbus, Sr.


Attackers: Nicholle Galletti, Killian, Sr.; Alexis Jimenez, Killian, Sr.; Midfielders: Ana Casariego, Palmer Trinity, Jr.; Carolina Casariego, Palmer Trinity, Jr.; Brittany Schiffer, Palmetto, Sr.; Defenders: Emily Franklin, Palmer Trinity, So.


1. COLUMBUS (Coach Jim DeLang, 5th year at COL, 21st overall). Last year: 15-4. Top players: Michael Davide, Sr.; Grant Nordlund, Sr.; Steven Hernandez, Sr.; Omar Shahbaz, Sr.

2. RANSOM EVERGLADES (Coach Roy Kelly, 7th year at RE, 29th year overall). Last year: 9-4. Top players: Jay Fuster, Sr.; Jeremy Peters, Sr.; Kevin Simon, Sr.; Brian Lash, Sr.

3. GULLIVER (Coach Jim Piggot, 4th year at GUL, 6th overall). Last year: 5-13. Top players: Jojo Rousseau, Jr.; Ryan Cordero, Jr.; Pierce Bailey, Jr.; Danny Rodriguez, Jr.

4. BELEN JESUIT (Coach John Okunski, 5th year, 20-25). Last year: 6-9. Top players: Matt Cristobal, Sr.; Ethan Rodriguez, Sr.; Robby Cosio, Sr.; Edwin Ricardo, Sr.

5. MIAMI COUNTRY DAY (Coach Daniel Penengo, 14th year at MCD, 17th overall, 70-80). Last year: 10-5. Top players: Jared Robins, Sr.; Brian Hernandez, Sr.; Sam Cohen, Jr.; David Butter, Sr.

6. PALMETTO (Coach Raffy Lazo, 1st year at PAL, 4th overall, 21-20). Last year: 9-7. Top players: Robert Lugo, Jr.; Connor Berg, So.; Cameron Brooks, Sr.; Darius Gonzalez, Sr.

7. CORAL REEF. Top players: Greg Boldt; A.J. Mestres; Jesse Sardina.

8. KILLIAN (Coach Bill Franklin, 3rd year, 12-17). Last year: 8-10. Top players: David Felipe, Sr.; Austin Anderson, Sr.; Tony Campagna, Sr.; Andre Villalobos, Sr.

9. PALMER TRINITY (Coach Peter Tomlach, 3rd year, 6-19). Last year: 3-11. Top players: J.D. Madril, So.; Danny Du Feu, Jr.; Nic Paz, Jr.; Jon Sourber, Jr.


1. PALMER TRINITY (Coach Joffre Salazar, 1st year). Last year: 6-7. Top players: Carolina Casariego, Jr.; Ana Casariego, Jr.; Emily Franklin, So.; Hana Borhani, Jr.

2. KILLIAN (Coach Henry Block, 6th year, 22-50). Last year: 6-8. Top players: Nicholle Galletti, Sr.; Alexis Jimenez, Sr.; Amanda Horgan, Jr.; Sade Allen, Sr.

3. PALMETTO (Coach Catie Franklin, 2nd year, 1-7). Last year: 1-7. Top players: Brittany Schiffer, Sr.; Lexie Rubin, So.; Ali Williams, Sr.; Kiersten Hileman, Jr.

4. CORAL REEF (Coach Erin Shelow, 2nd year, 0-7). Last year: 0-7. Top players: Maria Ramirez, Jr.; Kristin Putz, So.; Emily Castellanos, Jr.; Amanda Heinze, Jr.

Even before it joined the Florida High School Athletic Association’s state series last season, Columbus’ lacrosse team had already enjoyed success locally.

The Explorers, much like the sport in Miami-Dade County, hopes to continue to grow this season.

Coming off a 15-4 season, a district championship and advancement to the round of 16, Columbus is the favorite to come out of Dade again this season and try to make a deeper playoff push among the state’s best.

The Explorers figure to compete with some of the county’s best such as Gulliver, Ransom Everglades and a much-improved Belen Jesuit to name a few.

But Columbus will test itself right away this season.

The Explorers will face Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas, the team that eliminated them from the playoffs last year, on Friday night at 7 p.m. in their season-opener. Also on the schedule are Fort Lauderdale Pine Crest, North Palm Benjamin, Southwest Ranches Archbishop McCarthy and Boca Raton Spanish River.

“We only graduated three seniors off last year’s squad and we feel like we have a lot of depth returning to compete,” Columbus coach James DeLang said. “We’re looking for one signature win this season to show we can move our program to the next level.”

Columbus graduated its top scorer Nicky Rodrigo (62 goals, 26 assists), but brings back plenty of firepower especially in the midfield.

Seniors Grant Nordlund and Steven Hernandez combined for 81 goals and 61 assists last season. They will be backed in the midfield by junior Sebastian Cancio and senior Jake Quigley.

Senior Omar Shahbaz is also back and is considered one of the better defenders in the county.

DeLang also said senior goalkeeper Michael Davide could have one of the best seasons of any player at his position in South Florida.

“We’re deep in the midfield and we should be able to wear down a lot of opponents,” DeLang said.

Ransom Everglades returns one of the top overall players in the county in senior and five-year starter Jay Fuster, who owns all the school offensive records in the sport.

Belen could be the most improved team in the county after losing only two starters. The Wolverines are led by senior Matt Cristobal and added two former coaches from Boca Raton St. Andrews (Alan Bellando and Brian Cost) to their staff. Belen coach John Okunski hopes to run a more up-tempo offense and pressure defense.

True state championship contention for the Explorers and anyone else in Dade figures to take time, however. Many of the state’s powerhouses, such as Boca Raton St. Andrews, are still far ahead in terms of participation and player development.

“We’ve had good turnout in recent years here at Columbus, but overall at the youth level we sometimes only get 20 or so young kids to come out to learn the sport while up in Palm Beach, their youth programs get around 500 kids that learn the game since their little,” DeLang said. “It will take years to close the gap, but the sport is growing and there’s more interest each year.”

Read more Miami-Dade High Schools stories from the Miami Herald

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