JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – The Rivalry on the River is back with its best field yet.
The third annual lacrosse event returns to Bolles on Friday and Saturday with a loaded field that goes beyond the area this year. Twnety teams will play 10 games over two days, a talent-packed event with nationally ranked programs aplenty that will be streamed on News4JAX.com and News4JAX+. It puts lacrosse back in the spotlight for both boys and girls programs and solidifies just how strong the sport is in the area.
Eight of 12 of the area’s News4JAX Super 6 teams are in the field (four on the boys side, four on the girls), while seven teams in the event are ranked in the top 40 nationally by MaxPreps.
On the girls side, reigning Class 2A state champion Bartram Trail and Ponte Vedra resume their Rivalry on the River series. Those teams have faced off in the previous two installments. The Sharks won a 14-13 OT showdown in 2020, while the Bears won 13-8 last year.
Bartram is ranked the No. 6 team in the country by MaxPreps; Ponte Vedra is 12th. Episcopal, which faces Nease on Saturday morning at 10, is No. 37 in the country.
“It’s really exciting,” said Bartram coach Meghan Jackowiak. “Exciting especially for the girls and the other programs to be like on TV, on a high platform and just great exposure for the sport and all. So, it’s really exciting for them.”
Bartram, which has been No. 1 in every installment of the Super 6 since it began last season, isn’t the only defending state champion in the field. On the boys side, Lucy Beckham of Mount Pleasant, South Carolina is making the trip to face area No. 1 Bolles. The Bengals went 18-1 a season ago and will face unquestionably the area’s top two teams during its trip here. Lucy Beckham will face powerhouse and No. 2 Ponte Vedra on Friday night before facing the Bulldogs on Saturday.
“We’re playing the South Carolina state champs and they just had a big win this week. So, we’re pretty excited,” said Bolles coach Tom West. “We think it’s a really good game. And it’s great too, because selfishly, hosting at Bolles, so I can sit back and watch a lot of the teams I might be playing in the future. So, I can just set up a tent and hang out here.”
The Sharks played for the boys Class 2A state championship last year before losing a 13-12 heartbreaker to St. Thomas Aquinas in the final seconds. Ponte Vedra plays a national-type schedule and its opponent on Saturday night in the tournament finale is arguably the best of the event. The Sharks face Winter Park (10-1) at 8 p.m. in a rematch of last year’s state semifinals, won in a 13-11 classic by Ponte Vedra. Bolles (No. 5 by MaxPreps), Ponte Vedra (16th), Gainesville Oak Hall (24th) and Winter Park (35th) are all nationally ranked.
Rivalry on the River schedule
All games at Bolles; (Super 6 rankings)
Friday (all games boys)
Fleming Island vs. Gainesville Oak Hall, 2:30 p.m.
Tallahassee Maclay vs. Nease, 4:15 p.m.
Sandalwood vs. Fletcher, 6 p.m.
Gulliver Prep vs. (4) Creekside, 8 p.m.
Nease vs. (3) Episcopal (girls), 10 a.m.
(1) Bartram Trail vs. (2) Ponte Vedra (girls), noon
Gainesville Buchholz vs. (5) Episcopal (boys), 2 p.m.
Wolfson vs. (5) Bolles (girls), 4 p.m.
Lucy Beckham (SC) vs. (1) Bolles (boys), 6 p.m.
Winter Park vs. (2) Ponte Vedra (boys), 8 p.m.