The first all-local District 1 lacrosse tournament is set to be capped off in thrilling fashion, as Gulf Breeze (No. 2 seed) and Catholic (No. 1 seed) dive into their rivalry for the third time this season.
Catholic topped Washington 16-3 in Wednesday night’s semis, followed by a 16-2 win for Gulf Breeze over West Florida.
“The boys got out to a slow start on ground ball (Wednesday night),” Catholic coach Scott Bartkowski said. “We picked up the pace in the second half. Our guys were able to look and see the open man. We took great opportunities and had a lot of one-one-ones with (Washington) goalie (Garrison Story).
“Kudos to Garrison Story, he’s a great goalie — he just needed some more help from his defense tonight. One-on-ones are too much for any goalie.”
Catholic and Gulf Breeze will have their third match up of the season at 7:30 p.m. Friday in the District 1 finals.
“It’s a little bit real to them,” Bartkowski said, referring to the surreal moment for his players, who will participate in the first all-local district lax final. “They are looking at it as a person-to-person competition. We’ve gotta be ready to defend body on body instead of stick on stick. We were a little shy last time against Gulf Breeze. If we can move the ball as fast as we did in the second half (Wednesday night), I think we will be able to spread things out against Gulf Breeze and get inside.”
In the first meeting, Catholic’s defense held the Dolphins to their lowest scoring output of the season as the Crusaders won 9-7.
Two weeks later at Gulf Breeze, the Dolphins exploded in the second half to produce a 10-5 win and shake up the district standings.
As a team, the ‘Saders allow 3.9 goals-per-game ( Gulf Breeze 4.4 gapg) and save 70 percent of opposing shots (60 percent for the Dolphins).
Catholic goalkeeper Jack Bartkowski has conducted two shutouts this season, holding a 6-1 record for the Crusaders.
While Gulf Breeze’s defensive stats might slightly trail the Crusaders, the Dolphins make up for it with offense.
The Dolphins carry a .377 shot percentage, with 8.9 assists per game (6.5 apg for Catholic).
TJ Durst (32 goals) and Noah Haas (29) lead the attack for the Dolphins, while Nick Frasier frequently spreads the ball around to lead the squad with 19 assists.
For face-offs, Gulf Breeze’s Clark Couget and Catholic’s William Butler are in for a battle.
Couget has handled 73 face-offs, winning 69 percent this season while Butler has attempted 129 with a 64 percent rate of success.
District 1 Lacrosse tournament
At Gulf Breeze
Catholic 16, Washington 3
Catholic stats — Will Butler,15-for-22 on faceoffs, assist; Eric Buer 5 goals, 2 assists; Joshua Brady 3 goals; Nick Mann 5 goals, assist; Casey Glazer 2 goals; Mason Stewart goal, 3 assists; Ryan Campion 3 assists; Jack Bartkowski 6 saves.
Gulf Breeze 16, West Florida 2
(Stats not received before press time).