Heading into the West Springfield boys' lacrosse team's game with W.T. Woodson on April 23, the Spartans were indulging in the hype surrounding their undefeated team.
After dominating West Potomac 19-1 on April 19, who could blame the Spartans for puffing their chests?
"After the West Potomac victory, some guys got a little high on themselves," head coach Scott Settar said.
But even with his team sitting atop the Northern Region coaches’ poll, Settar didn't buy the hype.
"We knew at some point in the season we'd face some adversity — a speed bump that would define our team," he said.
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A 13-8 loss to Woodson proved to be that speed bump. Despite entering the game ready to play, the Spartans didn't play to their potential and let the game slip away.
Suddenly, the Spartans didn't care about coaches’ polls anymore.
"The loss brought us back to reality," Settar said. "There's been a lot of talk around the school and around the region about our lacrosse team, so that might have made us overconfident."
The upside of Woodson ending the undefeated streak is that the loss came at an opportune time.
With the Patriot District tournament just over a week away and the Northern Region tournament immediately following, the Spartans knew they would have a chance to get back on track.
"One of the things we talked about after the [Woodson game] was that Woodson was the last team to beat us last year in the region tournament," Settar said. "The difference between that game and this year's [loss] is that on Monday we got to have a game. Our season was over last year after that loss."
That's where the Robert E. Lee team comes in — an 8-1 squad lead by scoring dynamo Andrew Senft.
On April 27, West Springfield dominated the Lancers and held Senft to just two goals. During the game, senior attacker Eric Schauder had two goals and nine assists and four players had multi-goal games to lead West Springfield to an 18-2 victory.
The win over Lee didn’t just help to reset the Spartan's mindset, it also allowed the offense to recapture their explosive step.
Most of Schauder's nine assists came from set plays starting behind the net.
"I love working from behind the goal" he said. "I've been playing attack behind the net since fifth grade."
Goalie Kevin Young faced limited shots thanks to a recommitted defense that cleared every attacking attempt back toward the Lee defenders.
"We're just connecting better," senior defender T.J. O'Connell said. "We've got a better idea of where everyone is going to be."
With his team back on track, Settar said he hopes the Spartans won't let hype get in the way of other games.
"We're just focusing on our next game," he said. "That's our mission now. We're not thinking about anything else."