Jupiter showed that public schools can play lacrosse, too.
The Warriors became the first public-school lacrosse team to win a state title since the Florida High School Athletic Association sanctioned the sport in 2007, beating Orlando-Bishop Moore 11-8 on Saturday night at Boca Raton High.
“We pride ourselves on that,” Jupiter coach Nick O’Hara said. “It’s not easy keeping up with everybody else that’s got maybe a little bit of slight competitive advantage. But our guys worked hard, and we’ve been telling them we went through seven private schools to get here; we don’t want to make too big of a deal out of it, but they worked their butts off.”
Though the game was close, the Warriors trailed for only one minute. The Hornets took a 5-4 lead early in the third quarter. With 8:45 left in the quarter, Jupiter senior attacker Denver Aranda dived in front of the net, flinging the ball toward the goal. It went in, tying the game back up at five on his third goal of the night.
“We’ve been through it all this year,” O’Hara said. “We’ve been up, we’ve been down late in games. But there’s no quit at any point.
“We knew that this team we were playing against, the Hornets, were going to come out and continue to fight, so there wasn’t anything that was going to be easy.”
Aranda’s goal set up a three-score spree from the Warriors over the course of 1:05 minutes of game clock, with Chris Radice and Ken Cronin also scoring in quick succession.
“Last night, (Aranda) has one assist,” O’Hara said. “Tonight, he’s got five goals and is probably the player of the game. So, this team’s been like that all year. One guy steps up one night, the next night, somebody else steps up.”
Bishop Moore clawed back into the game, scoring twice in the middle of the fourth quarter to make the score 8-7. But 10 seconds after the Hornets scored their penultimate goal, Aranda spurred his team on again, scoring his fourth goal. He would add one more as the Warriors went on a 4-1 run that clinched the state title.
“It’s the best feeling anybody could ever ask for,” Aranda said.”I love everybody here.”