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A re-lax-ing Saturday

Caught up with Broward County's district lacrosse champions, who next week will aim for trips to the first-ever FHSAA lacrosse State Championship:

Boys' District 11 Champion -- St. Thomas Aquinas (11-6 winners over Pine Crest on Friday):

Senior co-captain Chase Juelich didn't see this coming.

"To be honest with you," Juelich said Saturday, "I didn't really have high hopes -- just maybe go .500."

After Friday's win in the district title game, the Raiders are 16-0. This week, they've got a bye in Tuesday's round of 16, then face the winner St. Andrews and Gulliver Prep (also played Tuesday) in Friday's quarterfinal. (See the bracket here.)

But for the two-year-old program -- which used the leadership of a few lacrosse-experienced upperclassmen this year to teach a number of new-to-the-sport athletes on the fly (with 12 players earning U.S. Lacrosse All-District mentions) -- the big goal for the season already has been achieved: Win the district. Especially with St. Andrews, long a state powerhouse, possibly looming in the round of eight.

Still, coach Lenny Coy isn't about to concede.

"St. Andrews is the favorite," he said, "but as we all know, any given day, anybody can beat anybody."

That includes Gulliver possibly winning Tuesday, something Coy said could happen. What probably won't, though, according to the coach: Someone from the other side of the bracket winning the title.

"I think whoever comes out of this side will win the state championship," Coy said. "This is where it happens."

Girls' District 12 Champion -- Pine Crest (11-8 winners over St. Thomas Aquinas on Thursday)

Eileen Pliske, the Panthers' club coach since 2006, couldn't be much prouder of her first-ever district champions.

"To feel like we have the official stamp [of the FHSAA] on us is pretty nice," she said. "It's an honor, really."

But unlike the St. Thomas boys, the Pine Crest girls can't wait until Friday for regional action. The senior-laden 14-5 squad gets to work Tuesday at Park Vista -- a team Pliske considers one of the state's best.

That won't shake Pliske's confidence in her team, though, a group she calls "incredible."

"They don't ever cave to pressure, these girls," she said.

As for Park Vista: "We definitely have the ability to beat them, and they probably want to underestimate us. But I am confident that we can pull it out."

Check back Tuesday (at the latest) for more.

--Patrick Dorsey

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