Mount Vernon first-team all-National District defender Habib Balde stood on his home field long after the conclusion of the Majors’ district tournament matchup with Yorktown and discussed what helped Mount Vernon reach the semifinals.
"I think we’re a team that went on motivation," he said. "We went on tempo."
Earlier in the evening, Mount Vernon trailed 4-2 late in the third quarter when Isaac Ortiz scored a shorthanded goal to breathe life into the Majors. One minute later, district Offensive Player of the Year Brendan Doyle scored his second goal of the night to tie the game at 4 and send the Majors and their fans into a frenzy.
But just as Mount Vernon gained momentum, Yorktown snatched it right back. Michael Crowe scored with just 3.1 seconds remaining in the third quarter to put the Patriots ahead, 5-4. Early in the fourth, Yorktown penalties gave Mount Vernon a three-man advantage, but the Majors couldn’t capitalize. At that point, the team that rode tempo to a 6-1 district record had been stymied. Mount Vernon watched as Yorktown padded its lead with three fourth-quarter goals and won 8-4, advancing to the district tournament title game.
"Horrible letdown," Balde said of not scoring with several Patriots in the penalty box. "Probably the worst feeling I’ve ever felt in my life. That’s something we’ve got to take advantage of and we just didn’t happen to finish."
While the Majors had their sights set on advancing in the district tournament, their season will continue in the regional tourney starting on May 18.
While Mount Vernon will enter regionals as an underdog, the threat of Doyle gives the Majors a chance. The senior, who will play club lacrosse for the University of Texas next year, has 60 goals this season, four shy of the school record set by Truett Valentine.
"He’s special," head coach Dale Dalls said of Doyle. "He’s in elite company with John Hart (2003), Bryce Whittington (2001) and Truett Valentine (2005). Those guys were all special attackmen."
Dalls praised Yorktown’s defensive scheme for limiting Doyle to two goals. Jon Hellberg also scored for Mount Vernon.
"We just have to get it out of our head," Doyle said of the loss.
Mount Vernon opened the season 2-5, including a 14-7 loss to Washington-Lee on April 13. After falling to the Generals, the Majors won six straight and seven of their next eight before falling in the district semifinals. Nalls credited senior leadership from Ryan Tracey, Joshua Thompson, Doyle, Balde and Hellberg for the team’s success.
Balde is the team’s top defensive player.
"He never takes a play off," Nalls said. "He goes hard. He’s scary to play against. I played against him in practice and he injured me just playing hard."
Attackman Luke Sienkiewicz, midfielders Charlie Zyzyk and Hellberg and defender Tracey earned second-team honors.