One of the marks of a championship team is its ability to fight back from behind in big games.
Last Friday night, the Broad Run High boys’ lacrosse team displayed that ability throughout its Dulles District tournament title game affair versus Heritage High. The result of the Spartans’ relentless pursuit of the lead was a spirited 16-11 finals game triumph. The title game took place at George Mason High School.
It was the evening’s second championship game of the night. Earlier, the Broad Run girls successfully defended their title with a finals win over Potomac Falls (see related story).
A year ago, it was the Heritage boys that defeated Broad Run in the district tournament title match. This year, it was the Spartans who came away the victors in the title game re-match. But it was not easy as Broad Run had to overcome deficits of 5-2 and 11-9.
"We haven’t been used to being down [in games]," said Broad Run coach Phil Truiett, whose team also trailed in its come-from-behind, 10-6, semifinals win over George Mason.
Broad Run (14-1) lost its only regular season game to Heritage. In that game, Truiett said his squad panicked a bit and was not able to come back. The Pride, in that regular season victory over the Spartans, ran the field well and controlled the quickened pace of the game.
Truiett said that was not the case for Broad Run in Friday’s title game win. In the playoff contest, the Spartans played at a slower, more methodical pace. They were able to set up their offense and get off good shots. Also, Broad Run did not fall apart even after falling behind a few times. The Spartans stuck to their game plan and came away champions.
"We played run and gun with them last time," said Truiett. "This time we played a slowed down game on offense."
<b>DURING</b> the comeback win over Mason in the semifinals, the Broad Run coaching staff encouraged the Spartans to relax when they fell behind. Broad Run did just that and fought its way back, just as it did in the finals.
Heritage, based on its recent success against Broad Run, was a confident team going into the championship game. The Pride, the tournament’s No. 1 seed team, defeated Freedom, 15-3, and Dominion, 9-6, to reach the finals. And the Pride came out strong against Broad Run, scoring five of the game’s first seven goals to jump ahead 5-2 a few minutes into the second quarter.
But the Spartans, showing great resiliency, stormed back by scoring four consecutive goals to take a 6-5 lead, the latter of the four scores coming on a left-handed shot from 12 yards out by junior midfielder Tim Sanders with one minute, 56 seconds remaining in the half. It was the third goal of the half for Sanders.
Heritage re-gained some momentum with a goal with 29 seconds left until the intermission to tie the game at 6-6.
<b>IN THE SECOND HALF</b>, Heritage once again came out clicking as it scored three of the third quarter’s first four goals to take a 9-7 lead with 4:44 left in the quarter.
But the Spartans came back strong with goals from Tyler Johnson and Kyle Ward to tie the contest at 9-9.
The Pride, however, scored the game’s next two goals and led 11-9 with 9:47 left in the contest.
But that is when the Spartans took off, displaying their championship colors by going on a 7-0 scoring run to end the game. Broad Run simply dominated the final nine-plus minutes of play.
Key goals during that game-ending stretch included a score from sophomore Johnson, who tied the game at 11-11 on a close range shot, off an assist pass from fellow sophomore Andrew Londos.
Just over a minute later, Broad Run took the lead for good when Londos, running towards the net from the right side, slung the ball in from 10 yards out to make it 12-11 Spartans at the 7:33 left to play mark.
That score brought a huge roar from the Spartans’ faithful, who were watching as their team literally overtook the Pride.
And about a minute after that, Broad Run got some breathing room on a netter from junior middie Geoff O’Kane to make it 13-11. Scores thereafter from Ward, Londos and senior middie Connor Forman put an exclamation point on Broad Run’s outstanding finish to the game.
<b>IN THAT FINAL</b> quarter, the Broad Run defense tightened up and the Broad Run offense passed the ball well in its offensive sets, working time off the clock after getting the lead and working for good shots.
"Our defense gelled at the end there," said Spartan senior defender Robby Buckman, of a Broad Run `D’ that allowed just a single fourth quarter goal. "We got some good clears. Offensively, you have to credit our guys for holding the ball. It was a great team game."
Truiett credited his seniors – Eric Madigan, Buckman, Forman and Eric Zimmet – with leading the way for the Spartans.
"I can’t say enough about the senior leadership," he said.
Broad Run, in the win, got three goals apiece from Sanders, Ward (4 assists) and Londos (2 assists). Tyler Johnson Connor Forman and Austin Forman each had two goals apiece, and O’Kane had one. Goal tender Collin Sack earned the win in the net.
Following the game, Broad Run was awarded the championship tournament trophy during postgame ceremonies. The Spartans were tri-regular season champions along with George Mason and Heritage.
Also following the game, the All-District team members were honored. Broad Run had five players named to the First Team. They were: defenders Eric Zimmet and Robbie Buckman; defender/midfielder Will Field; midfielder Connor Forman; and attack Eric Madigan. Middie Tim Sanders earned Second Team honors.