Oak Hall boys’ lacrosse team began their spring practices this week under head coach Jonathan Montes.
The Eagles are looking to extend their recent district success into 2019, as the defending District 3 champions in 2018. They’ve won seven district titles in the last eight seasons. Oak Hall is no doubt the team to beat in the Gainesville area.
The Florida State Lacrosse Coaches Association has Oak Hall ranked 7th in the state. They will look to improve upon that ranking this season.
— Steven Walker (@steven_w7) January 30, 2019
This team lost 8 seniors from the previous season, many of which played key leadership roles. Seniors are difficult to replace, but Coach Montes is confident in his team this season. He cites the school’s inclusion of 8th graders as a key factor in the depth of talent on their roster.
“We play a lot of time 8 through 12th graders on the same team. So most of our guys are varsity-caliber players by 9th grade.” – Coach Montes
When asked about the effect of losing players, Coach Montes commented, “I think we have some very strong players in our program, and the guys that were here before put us on the right track (to succeed).”
— Steven Walker (@steven_w7) January 31, 2019
Losing players is rough, but Coach Montes noted that the team has many returning guys that make up the core of the team. One player specifically mentioned was Shane Ryan, the sophomore goalie for the Eagles.
“(Shane Ryan) is arguably one of the best in the state at his position.” – Coach Montes
Another returning player for the Eagles is University of North Carolina commit Ryan O’Leary. Playing the attack position, Ryan is able to score quickly and set his teammates up for scores from around the goal.
When asked about his goals and expectations for the season, Ryan commented,
“I think this year we’re just looking to do what we’ve done the past few years, win the district championship and then go on and beat the team at the end of the road which is normally PV (Ponte Vedra).”
The Ghost of Postseason Past
Ponte Vedra knocked Oak Hall out of the FHSAA Boys State Lacrosse tournament in 2018, beating them for the second time that year. This season, Oak Hall plays at Ponte Vedra on April 11, where they will look to avenge last season’s shortcomings.
Coach Montes commented on Ponte Vedra,
“When you play a team like Ponte Vedra that is: well coached, has great athletes, and great kids that have played since they were like 6 years old, you can’t make a lot of mistakes. That’s the difference, we have to play a lot of mistake-free lacrosse.”
Mistake-free lacrosse continues to be one of Oak Hall’s focal points for the season. Coach Montes added,
“If you go back to last year’s games, we made mistakes with the ball in pivotal times.”
Regardless of last year’s results, Oak Hall looks poised to dominate district play once again. The Eagles open the season at Chiles in Tallahassee on Feb. 18.