It was a display of offense that produced goal-scoring unlike anything Mount Vernon boys’ lacrosse coach Dale Nalls had witnessed during his 13 years with the program. Not surprisingly, though, the 21 goals Falls Church racked up in a 21-17 National District semifinal victory over Washington-Lee while the Majors warmed up for their own semifinal win over Yorktown elicited two, very different responses.
There was the one from defenders like junior Habib Balde, “We were terrified. If they can put up 21 goals, their offense must be pretty good.” And another from the attack, like that of senior James Lamm, “What was going through my mind was they let the other team put up 17 goals against them. We’ve heard they were a great defense, but they aren’t playing as well as we think they are.”
While the best line of reasoning remains uncertain, there can be no question as to who the best boys’ lacrosse team in the National District is after Mount Vernon used a balanced attack on both sides of the field to beat Falls Church, 12-9, in the National District finals at Yorktown High School last Friday night.
<b>BUT THE GAME</b> was about more than capturing a singular title or even avenging their only district loss of the season (a 12-11 defeat to Falls Church back on March 16). For the Majors, the win meant upholding tradition.
When lacrosse came to the National District in 1996, Mount Vernon took home the first nine championships, the last coming in 2005. That meant a loss to Falls Church would make this year’s seniors the first group to never take home a district title. So as players piled on one another to celebrate the 10th district lacrosse title in school history, it was more out of relief and a tradition preserved than anything else.
“When we came in as freshmen (in 2006), we were the team that started it over since we didn’t win the district championship that year, so we knew that senior year we had to step it up,” said senior Brian Green, who finished with a team-high four goals.
“It was hard living in the shadow,” added Lamm, who chipped in with a hat trick. “This team used to always dominate the district, so it feels pretty good to complete the comeback.”
<b>AT THE START</b>, though, it looked as if defending champion Falls Church wanted to make it two-straight. The Jaguars jumped out to a 4-1 lead thanks in large part to three goals from senior Connor Simmons.
That’s when Mount Vernon coach Dale Nalls and his staff decided to switch the defensive matchups, assigning all-district defenseman Habib Balde the job of dealing with Simmons. Balde took the reins from there, holding Simmons to just an assist the rest of the way.
In fact, the whole Major defense upped the ante, not allowing a goal the entire second quarter and limiting Falls Church to just two tallies over the course of a 27-minute span beginning at the end of the first quarter.
Green sealed the deal at the eight-minute mark of the fourth quarter, getting his hat trick to give the Majors a two-goal cushion, and put things away with three minutes remaining with a goal at the front of the net that was just sheer determination.
“As soon as they sounded the horn, I was crying, I had tears in my eyes,” said coach Dale Nalls. “I cannot express how much I love this group of guys and the things they’ve had to overcome this season and over the course of four years. They’re just an amazing group.”
<b>NOW COMES THE HARD</b> part. Compared to its counterparts in the Concorde, Liberty, and Patriot Districts, Mount Vernon and the rest of the National District have taken on little brother status when it comes to lacrosse teams around the area.
But beginning with Tuesday night’s 14-7 win over Hayfield in the first round of the Northern Region tournament, the Majors hope to reverse that trend. They take on Robinson in the quarterfinals Thursday, after the Gazette’s deadline.
If their mindset from last week is any indication, these Majors won’t be intimidated.
“We want to show everyone else that we’re not the scared district or the sorry district,” said Green “We’re better than that.”