Raider News

Back-to-Back State Champions

Athletic Spotlights

In the words of the players themselves, "swaggy," "saucy," "relentless," "stalwart," "strong" describe the 2017 Boys' Lacrosse Team. With just one loss during the regular season, and that to Massapequa in New York, the boys went out and convincingly bested Lake Highland Prep for the Florida State Championship, 12-7.

Other teams that challenged the Raiders during the season included Jupiter, Lake Mary, and Benjamin.

A number of the players actually began their lacrosse careers way back in elementary school, as did Kyle Engel who said, "I started playing lacrosse in the second grade for the Davie Broncos because my parents took me there." Also providing opportunities for second and third graders, the Weston Warriors and Parkland Redhawks developed interest and skill in the game, early on.

Ryan Leahy's father, who played for The Ohio State University, and James Harrington's brother Burke, a Raider standout, definitely influenced their decisions to stick with the sport. Additionally, players admitted being inspired by some of their own teammates: Luke Fraser, Michael Costello, Nicholas Yovino, and David Madril, to name a few.

Lacrosse posed some unique challenges for the players. Luke Fraser identified the fast pace of the game and put it this way: "Substitutions are made on the fly, and transitions from offense to defense happen very quickly, so it is necessary to maintain a powerful mental focus." Bennett Braun cited "working on your off hand" as the hardest skill he had to acquire.

Kudos go to Coach Andrew Leddy whose strength and conditioning program contributed to the team's high level in competition, especially when the players had to play tired. Christian Borodiak said, "Coach Leddy played a big role in our success this season as he kept us in great shape and maintained our strength."

"Coach Crowley always finds a way to motivate us to be better people along with being better lacrosse players. He focuses on keeping the integrity of the game and building character," according to James Harrington.

As the team won its second state championship, Ryan Leahy said, "All the hours we spent in the weight room, on the field, and in the classroom were worth the glory!" With back-to-back state titles, the team has truly earned all that glory.

Jump High, Dream Big

Zatoria Thompson celebrated two stellar days at the Florida State Track and Field Meet on May 5 and May 6.

"I wanted this . . . the state championship," she said. Not only did she win gold in the High Jump but also in the 4x100 Relay, achieving her goal, two-fold.

Zatoria's father had encouraged her to train for track when, as a seven or eight-year old, she said, "I like to run." Her dad still trains with her on Saturdays at the gym, but Coach Dottin Henderson works with her on the track team at STA. "I found Coach Dottin online, and he has been coaching me even before I came to STA from American Heritage."

Participating in three events, Zatoria literally ran from the high jump to the 100m dash to the 4x100. She took seventh place in the 100m, earning valuable points along with her two first place finishes for the Raider Girls' Team that placed second in Class 4A Track and Field.

What makes Zatoria's performance even more impressive lies in the fact that she has been nursing a stress fracture while training for the state meet. "I have to rest, now, for six weeks," she said. Despite taking it easy for a while, Zatoria still maintains a track athlete's diet: "I eat lots of salad and choose chicken or fish instead of beef."

STA's Head Track and Field Coach, Alex Armenteros, boasts of the strong cadre of freshman girls on the team. Since three freshmen won championship medals along with Zatoria--Emelia Chatfield, Zahria Liburd Allers, and Thalia Dyer--the future of girls' track at STA looks mighty bright!


Photo Credit: Charles Trainor Jr. Miami Herald

Alexandra Beekhuizen, '17

Athletic Spotlights

Athlete Bio:

"I fell in love with lacrosse . . . in the third grade," she said, "when a recreational program, the Weston Warriors, started up a girls' team in my area." Her older brother had played lacrosse, and he inspired her to join. Although Alexandra (Ali) Beekhuizen tried other sports, she stuck with lacrosse; and the lacrosse program at STA feels very good about her decision.

In addition to playing on STA's varsity team, Ali plays for a club team, LaxManiax, a year-round club that includes girls from all over the state of Florida.

Ali has committed to The Ohio State University because of its status as a very competitive Division 1 team in the Big 10 Conference, ranked in the top 10 not only in football but in women's lacrosse as well.

Thinking about her career as a Raider, Ali said, "My most memorable moment was this year when we made it to states. We beat our rival, American Heritage-Delray, in overtime in the regional finals. They had ended our season the previous year, and we had lost to them during the regular season so it was really a big win."

When asked about the state-final loss this year, Ali said, "I learned how to see the positive in bad situations. Of course I am devastated about the loss, but I can still reflect on all the amazing things we accomplished this season even though we didn't get the outcome we all wanted. We beat a nationally ranked team, became a nationally ranked team, and made it farther than we ever have before. Though losing in the state finals is not how I wanted to end my senior season, I know my teammates will use it as motivation to be unstoppable next year."

Ali has genuine respect and affection for STA Coach Samantha McCurdy who commented positively about her role with Ali and the rest of the team. "My two years at STA have been very eventful and exciting. I couldn't be more proud to lead such an incredible group of girls."

Summing things up, Ali said, "I wouldn't change the memories I've made with STA lacrosse for the world."

Samantha MacCurdy and the Cinderella Story

"At the beginning of the 2017 season, no one knew what to expect.

"We had graduated eight seniors from the year before, all of whom had played a prevalent role. We hit the ground running, putting our first two opponents in double-digit losses. The turning point of our season was game three where we lost by 13 points. Some players let that [loss] define them and allowed it to set the standard for their season. Not this group of girls. They took that loss and went on to beat Bishop Moore, the current state champs and a nationally ranked team.

"We coasted through districts and the first two rounds of regionals that led us to meet the same team [American Heritage-Delray] that had beaten us by 13 earlier in the season. This time, though, we came out on top, winning in OT in one of the best sport moments I have ever been a part of. This win wasn't just showcasing this team's heart and ability to come back from a 13-point loss to win, but it marked a very significant date in the St. Thomas Aquinas Girls' Lacrosse history book.

"This 2017 squad was then on its way to its first-ever final-four appearance. The semifinal game again supported our ability to come back from a three-point deficit, with eight minutes left in the game, to win by three points, sending us to the State Championship game. There, we really showed our heart. We went down by four points in the middle of the second half but scored 6 goals to go up by two. They [Bishop Moore] were able to tie it up. After two long overtimes, a goal was scored by the opposing team, ending our Cinderella story season.

"This group has set new standards and has made a name for itself, not just in this community, not just in the state of Florida, but nationally. We couldn't pull off that last-season win, but there are so many huge things to be proud of."

For a great interview with Coach MacCurdy and Senior Ali Beekhuizen as the Raiders advanced to the state championship game click here!

Hockey Team reaches FSHL finals

Athletic Spotlights


Heading into the playoffs, the 2016-2017 STA Ice Hockey Team held high hopes but suffered two losses to Boca Raton, the only team to beat the Raiders this year. At the Signature Grand in Davie, the team garnered several awards, including the Florida Scholastic Hockey League Division II Finalist trophy, finishing their club season with a 16-5-2 record.

Named after Michael C. Gullman, '02, the Memorial Michael C. Gullman Award recognizes contributions of players who exhibit his hard work and positive attitude. This year, the award went to senior Timothy Lincoln and freshman Luke Vaccarella.

Senior David Childress exemplified the commitment, teamwork, persistence, selflessness, academic excellence, and sportsmanship that defined Hobey Baker and the team award that memorializes his values. Reflecting on his hockey career, David said, "Playing high school hockey over the past four years has been one of my most treasured high school experiences. I have formed strong, brotherly bonds with some of my teammates which have lasted all through high school. Playing hockey with guys so passionate about the game allowed us to perform better on and off the ice as a team."

The FSHL announced the Raiders' coach Nick Gullman, 05, as Coach-of-the-Year and junior Matthew Tunney, Goalie-of-the-Year.

Ten seniors led the team this year and encourage Raiders, both boys and girls, to take their places on the ice next year. Playing most of their games at Coral Springs Panther Ice Den, the Raiders also competed at Pembroke Pines Ice Arena, BB&T, and local area rinks.


St. Thomas Aquinas' Crowley picks up 400th career win

Terry Crowley has officially joined the 400 club.


On Tuesday, the St. Thomas Aquinas boys lacrosse coach notched his 400th career victory as the Raiders topped American Heritage 16-9.

Crowley, who's in his eighth season with the program, is just the second coach in Florida to reach the milestone. American Heritage-Delray's Jeff Goldberg is the state's all-time wins leader with 417 victories.

"To be honest, it's just a number," said Crowley, who's also had coaching stints with Douglas and Coral Springs. "It's not about me. It's about all the great players I've had the privilege to coach over the years. Coaches get all the credit, but we don't play the games."

"400 times, I got to be with these kids and that's what it's about."

The milestone victory, which ran the team's record to 9-0, is the latest in a string of tremendous accomplishments for the St. Thomas Aquinas program. Last season, the Raiders finished a perfect 19-0 and captured its boys lacrosse state championship in school history. Following the win, Crowley was named Florida Dairy Farmers Coach of the Year honors, while his son Kevin, now a senior attackman, earned Player of the Year honors.

The team is also currently in the midst of two impressive winning streaks. St. Thomas Aquinas has won 28 consecutive games after falling to Lake Highland Prep on May 5, 2015 in the state championship game.

In addition, St. Thomas Aquinas is riding a 39-game regular season win streak dating back to 2014. The team's last regular season defeat also came at the hands of Lake Highland Prep back on March 22, 2014.


Dusenbury, W. (2017, March 8). St. Thomas Aquinas' Crowley picks up 400th career win. Sun-Sentinel. Retrieved from http://www.sun-sentinel.com/sports/highschool/fl-s...


Wrestlers Bring Home Three Individual State Titles

The STA Wrestling Team ended the season with a third-place finish at the 2017 Class 3A State Championship. The Raiders had five wrestlers place in the top six and a school record of three individual state champions.


Junior Vincent Sessa, III, collected his second state medal with a sixth-place finish at the 132-pound weight class. Senior Stephen Moreno ended his career in his third state-tournament appearance, placing fourth.

Junior Grant Aronoff made his third-straight state-final appearance, picking up his second state title at 138 pounds in arguably the toughest weight class in the tournament which featured three former state champions. Grant took down former state champion Cullen Telfer of Strawberry Crest, 3-1, in the semifinal and shut out another defending state champion Franco Valdes of Southwest Miami, 7-0, in the final.

Senior Josiah Gittman joined teammate Grant Aronoff in becoming a two-time state champion. Josiah defeated Narek Stephanyan of Fletcher, 10-0, in the final at 195 pounds and only allowed one point scored on him throughout the entire tournament.

Senior Bryce Marcus dominated his bracket and pinned his opponent Todd Perry of South Dade in the final to win the 152-pound state title. Bryce capped off a successful career as a four-time state placer, taking fifth in 2014, fifth in 2015, fourth in 2016, and now first in 2017.



Players-of-the-Year

Seniors Michael Epstein and Brook Bauer named Sun-Sentinel High School Players-of-the-Year.

After sitting out his junior season due to injury, Michael Epstein ended the 2016 Season with a team-high 20 touchdowns and 1077 rushing yards. Named Team Captain, Michael led the Raiders to their tenth state championship and became part of Broward County's first football team to win three consecutive state championships. Michael will continue to play football at the University of Illinois.

Brook Bauer a three-year starter for the STA Volleyball Team, won three consecutive state championships during her high school career. Named Sun-Sentinel High School Player-of-the-Year as a junior. her career boasts of 252 kills, 74 aces, and 146 digs. Brook plans to continue her athletic career, playing beach volleyball at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California.

First Overtime Touchdown in Super Bowl History

STA Alum James White,'10, and current New England Patriot #28 became the Super Bowl LI MVP in our book!

On Sunday, February 5, 2017, James White set a new Super Bowl record with 14 catches totaling 110 yards. He scored on four separate occasions in this game with three touchdowns and a two-point conversion. Responsible for 20 of the 34 points for the New England Patriots in their incredible and never-done-before Super Bowl comeback, James White enjoyed a record-setting day.

At just 25 years of age, James White has us wondering what else he can do in the future. Regardless of the team you rooted for on February 5, 2017, whether you wore black and red or red, white, and blue, everyone who bleeds blue and gold felt a sense of pride on Super Bowl Sunday.

Wrestling 3A Regional Champions

On Saturday, February 25, the 2016-2017 STA Wrestling Team secured the 2017 FHSAA 3A Region 3 Championship.


Eight of the team's 18 members qualified for the state championship, including five region champions. The team finished with 195.0 points in the regional tournament, 31.0 points ahead of its closest competitor. The FHSAA 3A State Tournament takes place on March 3-4, 2017, at the Silver Spurs Arena in Kissimmee, Florida.

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