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Mar. 24, 2017 — A new contender in Florida

The last few years, the story in scholastic lacrosse in the state of Florida has been the rise of the Vero Beach (Fla.) program, which has been willing to host all comers. And there was also the rise of Naples Barron G. Collier (Fla.), which beat Vero Beach for the state title a year ago.

Collier is undefeated on the season in its road back to the state title. But there’s another undefeated side that could break through into championship contention.

Orlando Dr. Philip Phillips (Fla.) has a 12-0 record heading into the Panthers’ last two games of the regular season. The Dr. Phillips have been playing extremely well the last month, averaging more than 20 goals a game and giving up 10 or fewer in all seven of these games.

Dr. Phillips has had a few long runs in the state playoffs, but for four years straight (2012-15), the Panthers fell out of the state tournament against Orlando Timber Creek (Fla.).

Head coach Tim Morse, currently in his second season at the helm, has been looking to improve the team’s fortunes. The Panthers lost in the first round of the postseason a year ago, but are very much on track for a high seed in the Florida High School Athletic Association (FHSAA) Tournament.

“We were hurt last year; we were missing our whole midfield line,” Morse tells The West Orange Times and Observer. “I knew going into the fall, we’d started having a lot of success against a lot of the good teams in Central Florida. We definitely thought we would be in this situation.”

But the Panthers need to beat Ocoee (Fla.) and Lake Mary (Fla.) next week to guarantee a top-of-the-top seed in the state tournament.

Indeed, this year’s FHSAA tournament could feature a number of outstanding games towards the end; there are talented players all over the state, and they are making contributions to their high-school teams.

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