Lacrosse season kicking off

Posted on January 29, 2016 by Christian Graves

The Gulf Breeze High School girls’ lacrosse team is ready for the upcoming season, which kicks off next week.  (Submitted Photo)

The Gulf Breeze High School girls’ lacrosse team is ready for the upcoming season, which kicks off next week. (Submitted Photo)

Gulf Breeze High School Lacrosse boys’ and girls’ head coaches Matt Dorf and Carlee Costello are looking forward to the upcoming season of 2016, mostly because of the fact that it will be the first time Santa Rosa/Escambia has competed in a local district.
Since the programs’ inception in 2012, the Gulf Breeze High School lacrosse team has been playing out of districts in other cities in Florida, Tallahassee for the boys and Gainesville for the girls. The inaugural local district will consist of five teams: Gulf Breeze, Pensacola, Pensacola-Catholic, Washington and West Florida. The girls’ will consist of four, due to the fact that Pensacola-Catholic only offers lacrosse as a boys’ sport.
In a telephone interview with South Santa Rosa News, Costello explained why the district is only now being put together even though most of the teams have been around for at least two seasons.
“Well that’s just how the cookies crumbled,” Costello said. “The Florida High School Sports Association, they’re the ones that determine the districts, and it just happened to be that 2016 was the year that they were re-districting girls’ lacrosse.
“With so many new programs here on the Panhandle, it only made sense for the four girls’ teams and five boys’ teams to have their own district here locally,” she said.
Regardless of the reasons behind the formation of the district, Dorf stated that he was excited they had a local district now because it meant that not only did the team spare the expenses travelling to Tallahassee to compete, but the area had a better chance of being represented in the state playoffs.
“With the start of lacrosse here in Santa Rosa/Escambia, we could now have our own district and then compete in the state play in rounds,” Dorf said. “It gives Santa Rosa/Escambia county schools an opportunity to play in the state play in rounds – to be noticed.
“Before, when Gulf Breeze and Catholic High School were in District 1, only the top four teams would play for the district title, and the winner of that would advance to the state play in rounds,” he said.
Dorf is coming into his third season as head coach of the boys’ lacrosse team and helped start the Gulf Breeze Recreational Lacrosse program in 2007. This will be Costello’s first year as head coach of the girls’ team; however, she is no stranger to the sport and is well known along the Gulf Coast for her consulting and foundation of LAX Chix travel team.

GBHS girls’ Lacrosse coach Carlee Costello will be leading the girls this year.  (Submitted Photo)

GBHS girls’ Lacrosse coach Carlee Costello will be leading the girls this year. (Submitted Photo)

Both coaches have been preparing for the upcoming season and have been conditioning since Oct. and Nov. of last year. The Dolphins recently began practices for the upcoming season on Jan. 18, and individual talents and specific areas of strength are already beginning to present themselves on each team.
On the boys’ side, Dorf told SSRN some players that had impressed him so far and that if he had to list strength for his team, it might be on the defensive end of the ball.
“Nick Valletto should be very strong,” Dorf said. “Nick is a senior and has been recruited by Oglethorpe University in Atlanta to play lacrosse. On the offensive side of the ball, our attack line – lead by senior T.J. Durst, junior Harold Hill, and newcomer, sophomore Noah Hass – should put points on the board,” he said.
Costello on the other hand, believes the Lady Dolphins’ offense will be their best trait and has also identified individuals on her team that seemed particularly strong.
“Kate Reagan Costello, she’s a freshman and she will just be indispensable this season for sure,” Costello said. “And Frances Williams is our utility midfielder again, so you will be seeing a lot out of her, and then Rylie Compton is a junior and is an all-around workhorse. She handles both ends of the field just great,” she said.
The girls’ team was second in their district last year, managing to only lose one game during the regular season. The boys’ program went 13-5 in the regular season and made it to the district semifinal before losing. Costello believes the talent that Gulf Breeze has been playing at in these other cities is more established than the local programs in Santa Rosa and Escambia, giving them an advantage in the new district.
Williams recently signed a scholarship to play lacrosse at Lenoir-Rhyne University in North Carolina, and scored 35 points last year in the regular season, twice as many as any other player. She is only 22 goals away from breaking the 100-goal mark this season and would become the first player for Gulf Breeze to accomplish that feat.
“Lacrosse started here in Gulf Breeze, it was the first school to have a strong, solid club High School program grown into a FHSAA sanctioned team,” Costello said. “These girls have all been playing since sixth grade or more. Now I have 11 seniors on my team that have all been playing for four or five years, whereas the majority of the other schools in our area, the majority of their players have had a stick in their hand for maybe a year,” she explained.
The first game for the boys’ side will be next Friday in the Pensacola Catholic Jamboree before they open up their district schedule with a home match against West Florida High School on Feb. 11 at 7:30 p.m. The girls’ team opens up their regular season with a game against Eastside High School out of Gainesville on Feb. 11.