By: Wells Dusenbury
In their first ever match-up with St. Andrew's, it looked for a while like Benjamin was going to do the unthinkable and upset the Boca Raton powerhouse. Then the third quarter happened. After being tied at four going into halftime, the Scots finally got rolling and outscored the Buccaneers 8-1 in the pivotal third quarter.
St. Andrew's junior attackman Conor Whipple scored five of his career high nine goals in the period, leading the Scots to a 16-7 win over the Bucs in the Inaugural Orange Bowl Lacrosse Classic at Sun-Life Stadium. Whipple's nine goals was one short of tying the national record, according to ESPN.
"We lost focus tonight for a quarter," said Benjamin head coach Riordan Cheatham. "That's a very good team across the way and I respect the heck out of them."
Benjamin jumped out to an early 2-0 advantage and held a 4-2 lead late in the second quarter, thanks in large part to junior midfielder Charlie Nicklaus, who dominated on face-offs in the first half. St. Andrew's evened the score by halftime with two late goals in the second, setting the stage for the Scots' dominant third quarter.
"We knew we had to do something different," said St. Andrew's coach R.J. Dawson. "Blake Mulligan started taking a lot of the draws and played very well. The wing play was good which led to transition opportunities for our offense and as we always tell them, 'be patient with the ball and things happen.' We were a little more patient, had things open up and we executed."
The meeting was a match-up up of two dominant programs, who had been on opposite ends of the spectrum until now. Benjamin has always played as a club team, winning back-to-back state championships the past two years, but joined the FHSAA along with all of the other area club teams this offseason.
St. Andrew's had their streak of eight straight championships snapped last year after falling to Lake Highland Prep by a goal in the title game, and the Scots were eager to come out and silence their critics.
"We wanted to send a message and do it right," said Whipple, who's verbally committed to Georgetown. "We wanted to come out and win and prove to the state that we are a contender this year."
"We have a ton of haters and everyone, so we have to come out and prove everyone wrong."
Despite the loss, Cheatham was happy with his team's play early on and is focused on progressing as the year goes on.
"No one on this team is hanging their head," Cheatham said. "We hope to have the opportunity to play them again and hopefully that time come out on top."
VIDEO: Highlights from St. Andrew's 16-7 win over Benjamin
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