A soaking wet Patrick Gallagher stood on the field at Yorktown’s Greenbrier Stadium and recalled one of the reasons he took over as head coach of the Washington-Lee boys lacrosse program in February.
"I really felt," said Gallagher, who worked with the W-L JV in 2009, "that this season we had an opportunity for this very moment."
While his players dousing him in celebration with the contents of a water cooler might not have been part of the plan, hoisting the 2010 National District championship trophy certainly was.
The top-seeded Generals took the lead for good in the second quarter and pulled away from No. 2 Yorktown en route to a 14-8 victory on May 15 in the National District Tournament championship game. W-L led for 41 of the game’s 48 minutes and never trailed. The Generals went ahead to stay when senior Willy Horsley’s goal with 10:08 remaining in the second quarter gave W-L a 5-4 advantage.
The district championship was the first in the W-L program’s history. May 15 also marked the first time the Generals reached the tournament final.
"We’re going to be able to look back at 2010 forever," Gallagher said. "Right now you have plaques [from other W-L sports] hanging from 1942 — really old stuff. I’m glad we finally got ours up there and hopefully they’ll be a couple more up there."
A GOAL by Mark Palmer extended the W-L lead to four at 9-5 with 10:10 remaining in the third quarter. Yorktown’s Michael Crowe scored 24 seconds later to cut the deficit to three, but Crowe’s blow would be the last the Patriots would land for a considerable amount of time. After Crowe’s goal, W-L scored five straight and held Yorktown scoreless for nearly 17 minutes — a stretch of time greater than a quarter-and-a-half.
Yorktown’s Joe Crawford scored the game’s final two goals, but by then W-L was comfortably ahead.
In "the middle third of the field [the Generals] were excellent," Yorktown head coach Greg Beer said. "They got every groundball, they were active. They went hard, they were relentless and we couldn’t match the intensity."
While W-L entered as the better seed, Yorktown’s home field was the pre-determined site for the championship game and the Patriots were treated as the home team on the scoreboard. Yorktown won the regular-season meeting between the teams, 8-5, on April 9, but W-L came through with the title on the line.
"It’s just amazing," said Palmer, a first-team all-district midfielder. "After losing the first game against them in the regular season, to come back and win by this much shows how much hard work we put in. … If it takes a loss to realize how good you have to be, I guess that’s what it took."
Horsley, Nick Apseloff and Brendan Craig each scored three goals for the Generals. Palmer and Alex Cummins, a second-team attackman, each scored two goals and Nico Burns, a first-team midfielder, added one.
Horsley, a second-team midfielder, scored the game’s first goal when he followed his own miss off a post. He scored again minutes later to give the Generals a 2-1 lead.
"That set the momentum," he said, "and for the rest of the game we just plowed through it all."
Crowe and Lucas Alderfer each scored three goals for Yorktown and Crawford added two. Gallagher praised W-L first-team defender David Roddy for the job he did against Crowe, a first-team attackman.
THE PATRIOTS were without junior Rory Devine, the National District Defensive Player of the Year, who was attending a wedding in Buffalo, N.Y., according to Beer.
Gallagher said the win should give W-L athletes confidence they can win in any sport.
"I think it’s really going to show them," Gallagher said, "that it doesn’t matter what sport it is — this is the ultimate sport to beat them in — if we can beat them in [lacrosse], we can beat them in football, we can beat them in basketball, it doesn’t matter."
Even if it takes a little time.
"I’m still trying to have it sink in right now," W-L second-team long stick midfielder Jamal Williams said. "As soon as we see that banner, maybe that’s when I’ll know."