Columbus’ lacrosse team set the bar pretty high for itself last season advancing to the state quarterfinals.
After graduating 16 players, the challenge this season was sustaining that success.
The Explorers are one victory away from matching last year’s accomplishment following a 12-7 victory over Palmetto on Tuesday night in the first round of state play-ins at Columbus.
Alec Carreras, Sebi Cancio and Michael Bulnes each scored three goals to lead the Explorers (16-4).
Tyler Volovar, Nick Quesada, Nicky Quintairos scored one goal each.
“We scored a bunch at the end and scored a few more goals and had some nicer shots,” DeLang said. “We lost a lot of great players including our goalie and seven defensemen. We’re still growing and learning.”
Columbus clinched a matchup with Fort Lauderdale St. Thomas Aquinas on Friday at 8 p.m. in the second round of play-ins. The Explorers beat Aquinas in the same round last season intensifying what has been a growing rivalry between the two schools in the sport.
“[Aquinas] is going to be out for blood, but you have to play the game,” DeLang said. “Our kids are capable and we can be really good. We’re going to be excited and these kids aren’t afraid of the challenge.”
Columbus first had to hold off a much-improved Palmetto team that went 8-4 this season and won its second district championship in the past three seasons.
Trying to slow the pace of the game down with its passing, the Panthers got as close as 6-5 to start the fourth quarter before Columbus pulled away with four goals in the first seven minutes of the quarter.
Andrew Miranda and Pete Lowell led Palmetto with three goals each.
“We’re a little better athletically and we can run well,” DeLang said. “Palmetto tried to play a zone against us so if we played selfish we’d struggle. If we shared the ball, we’d do well.”
• Palmer Trinity 12, West Broward 10: WB: Juliette Cusano 4 goals, 8 draw controls. Arielle Jonas 4 goals. Natassjia Ragbeer 2 goals, 7 ground balls. Katrina Ragbeer 6 ground balls.