sports 3 days ago

Williams leads favored All Saints into district lacrosse tournament

The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla. — Roy Fuoco The Ledger, Lakeland, Fla.

April 17--WINTER HAVEN -- Fisher Williams grew up playing baseball and football, and he will continue to play sports when he goes to college.

He'll be playing lacrosse at Lynn University where he recently committed to play.

Williams' baseball playing days ended when he began playing lacrosse in the sixth grade at All Saints and he quickly took to the sport and emerged as one of the top players in the county.

Williams, who was The Ledger's inaugural boys lacrosse player of the year last season as a sophomore, will lead the top-seeded Saints into the boys Class 1A, District 13 tournament that begins today at Bryant Stadium against Winter Haven. The championship game is set for Friday.

The girls will play at Celebration High School today with the championship game set for Thursday.

All Saints coach Ray Ryan was looking for players when Williams was in the sixth grade, so he gave it a shot. It wasn't hard for Williams to give up baseball for lacrosse.

"It's a lot more fast," he said. "It's so much more fast moving. In baseball, I was an outfielder and sitting around half the time. When I came out for lacrosse, it was awesome."

Of course, it was a new sport so there was a learning curve.

"The hardest things were stick skills, cradling, passing, catching and shooting," said Williams, who has been to many camps over the years to learn the game. That was only half the battle, however.

"I think the mental part is more important," he said. "If you know how to pass and catch, but don't know where to pass and where to catch, then I feel like you need to understand the mental part of the game."

Williams was a fast learner. Last season, he led the Saints with 82 goals and 25 assists. This season he's again their top scorer.

"I remember when I came out my first day of practice, I couldn't pass, catch or anything, and now I'm looking and I'm shooting almost 90 mph," he said. "It's crazy."

But Williams, an attacker and midfielder, is more than a scorer. He's valuable on defense, winning the ball in the midfield and scoring, of course, on offense.

"Ultimately, he controls the offense," Ryan said. "He's kind of like our quarterback of the offense. He wins ground balls, scores. He's a scorer, but he also gets assists, which is extremely important. He's the guy that most try to lock off and try to prevent him from even catching the ball, so he has to work twice as hard to get open. He plays with composure. He's extremely unselfish."

Ryan said Williams has good hands and has great vision.'

"He sees the field and has the patience to let plays develop. He's not afraid to take the shot in a big moment, but if someone is open, he'll give it up too."

All of Williams' skills, and that of his teammates, a veteran group that lost just two starters from last year, will be important as the Saints go for their first district title.

Last season All Saints appeared to be on the verge of beating Lakeland in the district championship game. The Saints led 16-13 with 1:06 to play, but the Dreadnaughts rallied to tie the score and win in overtime, 17-16.

"It's definitely motivated us a lot this year to get back to the district final," he said. "Yeah, it really has motivated us."

Senior goalkeeper William Skipper, sophomore midfielder Tyson Gurnsey, sophomore defender Ben Acosta and senior midfielder Tanner Scarborough are all back and were first-team, all-county selections last season. Brothers Will Garcia and Jack Garcia are big on defense for the Saints. Sophomore midfielder Colby Gardner is a workhorse who never comes off the field. Stuart Skipper is back from injury and might be the fastest player on the team.

All Saints avenged the loss to Lakeland in the opening game of the season and have lost just one game all season to Gainesville Oak Hall.

This is just the second year that All Saints is in a district with other Polk County teams. Only four of the six teams in the district play in the district tournament. Bartow, Lakeland and Winter Haven join All Saints in the district tournament.

"To see three teams competing at a high level, it's pretty cool," Ryan said. "Ultimately, our goal is to continue to get better, to play with a high level of heart and sportsmanship and win districts."

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