WINTER GARDEN – The Vero Beach High School girls’ lacrosse team moved one step closer to another state championship with a convincing 24-9 victory over the feisty Winter Springs Bears. With the win the Fighting Indians will advance to the state championship game for the fifth consecutive year.
The Fighting Indians will meet the winner of the other semifinal between Park Vista and Lake Brantley at 5 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s exciting and we feel like we belong here,” Vero Beach coach Shannon Dean said. “This is where we like to showcase our talents. The girls had a lot of butterflies coming into the game, but once when we pulled into the school everything set in. We got on this field and it feels like home to us.”The Fighting Indians jumped to a commanding 6-1 lead and never looked back, overwhelming Winter Springs in every facet of the game. The ladies were quick on defense and precise on offense, more than doubling Winter Springs’ shots on goal.The win was satisfying for coach Dean and his players. He credited the team’s success to their focus and championship drive. “I think it’s our drive for success and motivation,” Dean said. “We’re just dedicated and these girls know that the regular season is just a warm up for the playoffs and they’re very excited for that. They’re excited for playoff time and that’s what they play for.”Winning the championship would be extra special for the Fighting Indians in part to the unfortunate situation they faced last season. After winning the FHSAA state championship they were forced to vacate the title because of a violation of FHSAA scheduling policy. The situation served as extra motivation for the long time championship team.”After what happened last year, there were a lot of distractions last year, I think we all would like to put all of that stuff behind us and move forward and win a fifth one in a row,” Dean said.The Fighting Indians dealt with their disappointment with hard work and maturity. Coach Dean credits the team’s continued success to constant honest communication from the coaching staff and the impressive level of maturity his players’ exhibit on and off the field. “It’s something we communicate with the team constantly,” Dean said. “These are young girls, 14 and 18-year olds, but they’re very smart and mature. We don’t keep anything from them and they respect that and realize that they’ll take that forward and move on to the next game.”The Fighting Indians will take their experience and maturity into tomorrow’s championship game and look leave no doubt as to who is the best girl’s lacrosse in the state. Coach Dean has an idea of what it will take to get the job done.”It’s going to take a lot of what we did here today,” Dean said. “I was very pleased with how they played here today and we’re just going to continue on with the same game plan tomorrow.”