Viera Valor lose in final seconds of gold medal game
The Viera Valor fell behind 4-0 before staging a rally that would eventually lead to a 9-9 tie. However, the TC Sailfish scored in the closing seconds to win the gold medal game 10-9 at the AAU Jr. Olympics at Viera Regional Park on Sunday.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
They trailed all afternoon only to come back to tie the score, not once but twice, in the game’s closing moments.
But for the Viera Valor, Sunday’s gold medal boys lacrosse game in the AAU Jr. Olympics would end in heartbreaking fashion.
Playing two men down after penalties, the Valor gave up the game-winning goal with just a few seconds remaining in regulation as the TC Sailfish celebrated a 10-9 victory at Viera Regional Park.
“The game of lacrosse comes to one basic fundamental – ground balls,” Viera coach Bo Bartlett said. “The team that wins ground balls, 99 percent of the time, wins the game. And we got killed in the first half on ground balls.
“Our compete level was down. We played like (we have six) incoming freshmen. They were timid. And they just out-hustled us. … When you go two men down with 20 seconds left, you’re behind the eight ball.
“I thought we had a chance when they missed the net, but apparently, there was still some time on the clock and their kid made a crazy, incredible shot. That’s the way it goes.”
The Sailfish defeated the River Hawks earlier in the day to reach the first gold medal boys lacrosse game in the history of the AAU Jr. Olympics. As a result, the River Hawks received the bronze medal, while the Sailfish advanced to the title game.
The Valor, who won both of their games on Saturday – including a 9-1 victory over the Sailfish – got off to a slow start in the rematch.
Viera struggled on faceoffs, had trouble connecting on passes, and had a number of defensive breakdowns early in Sunday’s gold medal game.
Viera found itself down 4-0 and 5-1 early on. It was 6-2 at the half following a pair of goals by Jared Weiss.
Alex Rodriguez would add two goals and Kyle Fischer, Michael Howkins and Weiss would each add scores of their own to bring the Valor to within a goal at 8-7.
Following a nice save by goalie Maguire Pedrick, it was Weiss again with his fourth goal of the day to tie the score at 8-8.
The Sailfish would re-take the lead with five minutes remaining only to see Weiss score for the fifth time to knot things up again.
But the final goal was the clincher … and it came from the Sailfish.
As disappointed as the Valor were to come away with the silver medal, the something to be said abut the way the team was able to come back after such a rough start.
It’s a credit to a roster that included: Josh Glick; Ethan Discuillo; Jake Glick; Eli Menchetti; Pedrick; Harley Sylvia; Brayden Wolfe; Austin Smith; Jack Hathaway; Rodriguez; Weiss; Hunter Levi; Dallas Thomas; Fischer; Gabe See and Howkins.
“Our older guys kept their composure,” Bartlett said. “They were starting to get a little frustrated. They held it together and started to boost up the younger guys. Once they started doing that, it gave the younger guys some confidence.
“We started to turn it around. The future’s bright.”