a group of girls playing a game of lacrosse
The Hurricanes’ Iona Holmquist works to retain possession against NSU University. DOUG FINGER/Keys Weekly

Key West boys lacrosse is riding a 4-game win streak, having not lost since March 15. The Conchs are picking up steam heading into district action. 

The 11-3 Conchs get a bye in the first round of playoffs, which sends them directly into the semifinals. Their opponent is predicted to be Ransom Everglades on Friday, April 12 with the possibility of a last-minute change due to final power rankings, which occurred after press time.  

The Conch boys lacrosse added three wins in four days, starting with Coral Reef on April 2. Smith Switzer, Carter Sessoms, Noah Collins and Max Louchheim netted 2 goals apiece, while Roman Van Loon, Reif Walen, Zack Payne and Kieran Smith each had 1. Mateo Lopez had double-digit saves in goal, earning the Player of the Game award. 

Louchheim and Anthony Fernandez teamed up to win a majority of the game’s faceoffs to help Key West pull off a 12-8 victory over the Barracudas. On April 5, the Conchs beat the St. Brendan Sabres, 13-7. Brooks Pellicier and Sessoms scored 3 goals each with Wallen, Switzer, Collins, Louchheim and Dreyden Telfer adding 1 each. Lopez collected 17 saves in goal to preserve the win. 

Fernandez dominated faceoffs, winning what coach Alberto Piceno guessed would amount to about 15 once the game film was thoroughly analyzed. Piceno credited Louchheim with solid offensive and defensive play, awarding him Player of the Game for the win. 

Key West went on to beat Westminster Christian 7-5 the following night for their third win of the week. Collins was awarded the Player of the Game title in that matchup with 2 goals and 4 assists. Louchheim, Switzer, Sessoms, Pellicier and Mack Hill scored the rest. Mateo Lopez had more than 20 saves in goal and Fernandez was dominant on faceoffs.

The Hurricanes finished the regular season with two losses last week, with the first coming from Westminster Christian on April 3 and the next, two days later, against North Broward Prep. In the 12-3 loss to Westminster Christian, Lucas Carballo, Reed Tudor and Zane Martinez scored 1 time each. Brock Bynum had 19 saves in the 12-4 loss. 

In the game against North Broward Prep, Carballo had 2 goals and Tudor added another to his season stats in the 5-3 loss. Bynum saved 15 to keep the game close. The ’Canes could face Westminster once again on Thursday, April 11 in a district quarterfinal game, depending on the final power rankings from the FHSAA.

The Lady ’Canes lost a pair of games last week, ending their regular season with a 2-7 record. Coral Shores lost to Palmer Trinity 15-10 on April 3, then to NSU University School on April 5 by a score of 11-5. The Hurricanes’ first postseason opponent was not yet determined as of press time.

The Lady Conchs faced two of their toughest opponents of the season last week, playing both American Heritage schools over the span of three days. Before that, they took on Coral Reef at home on April 2, beating the Barracudas 11-4. Kaitlyn Piloto scored 3 goals and was credited with 2 ground balls, leading the scoring for Key West. Taylor Gibson and Deanna Mercier each netted a pair of goals. Mercier had 6 draw controls, a pair of caused turnovers and a pair of ground balls; Gibson scooped up 4 ground balls. Maeve O’Hearn scored once, caused 2 turnovers, earned 3 ground balls and captured an interception to help on both sides of play. 

Colbie Turner, Ava Brock and Ella Bishop each scored 1 goal each in the win while Courtney Grabus was credited with 6 saves and 2 ground balls. Coach Marisa Giacopuzzi was elated with the team’s play.

“The girls played a beautiful game of lacrosse. Solid teamwork, patience with possession and the defense did a phenomenal job shutting down anything the Barracudas tried to do,” Giacopuzzi said.  

Two nights later, Key West faced the defending state champions and No.1-ranked team in Florida, American Heritage out of Delray Beach. The Conchs lost 18-1, but Courtney Grabus made 8 saves while Deanna Mercier prevented Key West from being shut out. The Plantation version of American Heritage ended in a 16-2 loss, but Giacopuzzi had positive takeaways from the game. She credited Ella Bishop with her defensive play on Heritage’s top-scorer, completely shutting her down and preventing a single goal from her. The game’s 6 yellow cards, 3 from each team, were a testament to the physical play and efforts on both sides to win. 

Grabus was peppered with shots on goal, saving 10 from the scoreboard. Brock and Mercier, assisted by Eisley Whitehead, scored the Conchs’ goals. With official district brackets still in the works, Giacopuzzi offered her prediction, saying, “We will likely see Palmer Trinity again on our turf and will undoubtedly be looking for a redemption from our senior night.”

Tracy McDonald
Tracy McDonald fled to the Keys from the frozen mountains of Pennsylvania hours after graduating from college and never looked back. She is a second generation coach and educator, and has taught in the public school system for over 25 years. She and her husband met at a beginning teacher meeting in 1997 and have three children born and raised in Monroe County. In her free time, McDonald loves flea markets, historical fiction and long runs in the heat.