Viera Valor wins twice to reach Sunday's AAU Jr. Olympics gold medal game
A Viera Valor player (center) splits two TC Sailfish opponents during Saturday's AAU Jr. Olympics game at Viera Regional Park. The Valor won twice on Saturday to advance to Sunday's gold medal game.
VIERA VOICE Carl Kotala
The Viera Valor club lacrosse team will have a unique opportunity on Sunday:
The chance to become the first-ever lacrosse champions at the AAU Jr. Olympics.
The Valor earned that right Saturday afternoon with a 9-1 victory over the TC Sailfish from Martin County and an 8-3 win against a River Hawks team made up of players from Edgewood, Holy Trinity and Satellite at Viera Regional Park.
With the victory, the Valor move into today’s gold medal game, which is set to begin at noon. The Viera team, made up of 16 Viera High boys players, will face the winner of the 10 a.m. game between the Sailfish and the River Hawks.
“I think it would mean a lot to be known as the first AAU champions,” Viera High rising senior Jared Weiss said.
Weiss, who did a lot of the scoring for the Valor on Saturday, is one of the more experienced players on this year’s club team. But it was the play of the younger players that really had Viera coach Bo Bartlett happy after the two wins.
“I’m ecstatic. I have six rising freshmen on this team,” Bartlett said. “They’ve never played a high school lacrosse game before. I only had two seniors and four returning varsity players out of the 16. The rest were either JV (players) or incoming freshmen.
“I love the fact that we have the youth that we have. The feeder program we have (Viera Suntree Lacrosse Club) is just awesome.”
The Valor played a particularly strong game against the Sailfish in the early game, taking an early lead and pulling away in what was a rather physical contest.
The second game against the River Hawks was much closer as the Valor scored the final five goals to get the win.
“The first game, they were moving the ball well,” Bartlett said. “The chemistry was really strong, especially for these guys. It was their first game playing together. The hustle was there. They weren’t afraid. They played hard.
“I think in the second game, they started to show their youthfulness. They started to play like incoming freshman, kind of what I expected in the first game.”
Weiss was also happy with the way the new players performed Saturday, especially considering they will help make up the Viera High roster this coming season.
“I think we played pretty good, especially with all the freshmen and the young kids coming in,” he said. “I think they’re going to really grow up and be good players.”
The idea to add lacrosse to the AAU Jr. Olympics came after Florida governor Ron DeSantis announced in June that the games were coming to Brevard County.
Joe Rodriguez is the tournament chairman with help from Bartlett and former Viera boys coach Charlie Crawford.
“This is the very first lacrosse (event) ever at the Junior Olympics,” Bartlett said. “That’s why we did the tournament.”
Originally set as an eight-team event, the number of teams dropped as the tournament got closer -- perhaps by teams being tired after a long summer season, or worried about the coronavirus pandemic.
But now that lacrosse is part of the AAU Jr. Olympics, Bartlett is hoping to see it continue to grow.
“AAU really wants to get involved with lacrosse, so this is sort of the introduction to it,” he said. “Hopefully, it can go further from here. I would love to take a team to Houston next year (for the 2021 games).”