By Jack Howdeshell
The Lafayette High School winter sports season has drawn to a close with the final two teams still in action competing in the playoffs.
Following their district title the week before, the Lafayette boys soccer team moved through the FHSAA Region 1-1A state playoff brackets to reach the championship game for the second consecutive season. Winning the quarter-final match against Franklin County 5-0 on Jan. 31 set the Hornets up for a rematch with district rivals Tallahassee Maclay on Saturday, Feb. 2 in the semifinal round. The Hornets had defeated Maclay for the district title the week earlier, but had dropped both regular season matches to the Tallahassee school. It didn't appear to be the same Maclay team that had battled to the top seed in the district earlier in the season as the home team took the advantage earlier and never looked back. Before the night was over the Hornets had netted four goals while only allowing the visitors one scoring opportunity. With the 4-1 win, the Hornets who had enjoyed hosting the district tournament and the regional playoff games, were headed on the road for the first time. As they had done last year, the Hornets traveled to the regional championship match, this year facing Orangewood Christian in Maitland, Fla. as the only public school remaining in the tournament. Hornet fans were treated to summer time weather for the mid afternoon games in Central Florida after experiencing some very cold matches earlier in the playoffs at home.
The direction of this game was clear from the start as Orangewood netted their first goal in under a minute. The Hornets kept the match close heading in the halftime break down 2-1 with several shots just missing the goal. The second half action was very competitive as Orangewood added a single goal in the first 20 minutes and the teams went into the water break separated by two goals, 3-1. Lafayette has had the ability to score quickly as they had done with a four goal 17 minute barrage against Maclay in the district title game. Unfortunately for the Hornets fans who had made the trip to Maitland, the scoring barrage on this day came from the home team.
Following an injury to the Lafayette goal keeper, who was able to eventually return to the game, the Orangewood team netted four more before time expired for a final score of 7-1.
In boys basketball playoff action, the Hornets hosted the district tournament this season and reached the semifinal round of play. Following their 71-25 quarter-final win over neighboring Branford High on Tuesday, Feb. 5, the Hornets moved on to face top-seeded Hamilton County in the semifinals. The game followed the earlier semifinal match-up that saw Melody Christian Academy defeat Jefferson County to advance to the title game that was played on Saturday.
Lafayette working with a limited bench had to keep their starters on the floor for the majority of the contest, while Hamilton County had the luxury to rest their starters as needed. As the teams headed to the locker room after the first half, the Trojans enjoyed a 41-21 advantage. With a little rest starting the second half, the Hornets kept the margin at 20 not allowing lead to be increased in the final game of their season. The final period of play only saw the advantage increase by two as the Hornets matched shots with the Trojans before losing 80-58. Hamilton returned on Saturday to claim the district title with a 49-47 win over Melody.
With the final winter sports finished, the spring sports begin and many Hornet players transition from soccer and basketball to softball, baseball and track. The Lady Hornets are in full swing and a perfect 2-0 record to start the season following a pair of preseason wins in the Hornet Classic they hosted. The baseball and track teams will move into regular season action as well and Hornets fans need to come support each program as they attempt to add to the three district, one regional and one state title claimed by the Hornets so far this school year.