The St. Thomas Aquinas boys’ lacrosse team won the state title with a 12-7 victory over Lake Highland Prep on Saturday night in Jupiter.
The Raiders finished the season 22-1 and ranked 16th nationally.
It was all set to be a storybook ending for the St. Thomas Aquinas girls lacrosse team.
Rallying from second-half deficits in its previous two playoff games to reach the state finals, the Raiders once again pulled themselves out of a late-game hole.
After trailing Orlando Bishop Moore 10-6 with less than 12 minutes to play on Saturday afternoon, the Raiders generated some of its patented second-half magic, scoring six unanswered goals to take a 12-10 lead.
The Raiders were just two minutes away from hoisting their fsirst girls lacrosse state title. But sometimes, storybook endings aren't meant to be.
The Hornets scored two goals in the waning moments to force overtime and then Abby Spalding netted the game-winner with 13 seconds left in double overtime to top St. Thomas Aquinas 13-12.
“I was hoping we would take it away,” said St. Thomas Aquinas second-year coach Samantha MacCurdy.
A day after overcoming a late two-goal deficit in its 12-9 state semifinal win over Naples Barron Collier, the Raiders struggled out of the game in the first half. Bishop Moore led for the entirety of the first 15 minutes, taking a 7-3 lead into halftime.
But in the second half, St. Thomas Aquinas came alive. Carly Steinlauf and Caroline Stefans scored back-to-back goals in 33 seconds to cut Bishop Moore’s lead to 10-8. Beginning to assert themselves on the draws, the Raiders kept the momentum going, tying up the Hornets 10-10 with 8:12 left on senior midfielder Ali Beekhuizen’s first goal of the day.
Operating its offense to pinpoint precision, St. Thomas took its first lead with 4:33 left on Stefans fifth goal of the game. The Raiders would add another two minutes later to jump out to a 12-10 lead.
While it looked like St. Thomas was moments away from a championship coronation, the Hornets stung the Raiders for two goals in the final two minutes to send the game to overtime tied at 12-12.
Both teams had scoring opportunities in the first overtime, but neither could connect. In the second session, Bishop Moore put the finishing touches on its comeback to capture its first ever lacrosse state title.
Stefans led St. Thomas with five goals, while Steinlauf and Gabi Cash each scored three.
Saturday’s double overtime defeat at Jupiter High School brought the Raiders’ sensational season to a heartbreaking close. Among the highlights, Aquinas (18-2) reached the state tournament for the first time in school history and achieved a national ranking, coming in at No. 23 this week in the Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse top 25.
“I think this group of girls really set a precedent for any girls lacrosse players that goes through St. Thomas Aquinas,” said MacCurdy. “They’ve set a really high standard.”
▪ Gulliver 16, Champagnat 0: WP: Jack Patullo, 3 IP 7 K's; Adrian Del Castillo 3-3 HR (6) 5 RBI, Kevin Maura 2-2 3 RBI.