Lambert boys lacrosse used a 8-0 run to pull away from visiting Pope High School on Saturday to move onto the Class AAAAAA semifinals, winning 14-5.
Just one year before, Lambert was the number one seed in the state with high expectations to take home another state championship. Their first game of the playoffs was against Pope, another lacrosse powerhouse. In that 2015 showdown, Pope knocked off the Longhorns 7-6, handing them their earliest playoff exit in program history.
This season, the Longhorns entered the game undefeated (19-0) and the No. 1-ranked team in Georgia, according to Laxpower.com. Pope hoped to write a similar script.
“We try to downplay that game because it’s a different year and different teams,” said Lambert director of Lacrosse Rich Wehman, “but I’m sure in the back of their minds they were still thinking, ‘Hey, this is our chance to get some revenge’.”
Early in the game, the intensity was high. Lambert scored the first two goals, but Pope got one of those back right before the end of the first quarter.
The Longhorns grabbed a 5-1 lead after three-straight goals in the second quarter. Pope called a timeout after the fifth goal, and the Greyhounds came out firing back. They strung together two straight goals to head into halftime trailing 5-3.
“What we had picked up on these guys on film is that these guys find a way to hang around,” Wehman said. “At halftime we told our guys that we let them back into the game with those two easy goals.”
Pope continued its hot stretch into the third quarter when another goal made the game 5-4. A huge goal by Conrad McEvoy stopped the Pope scoring run, but Pope’s Steven Runge responded to make the game 6-5.
Much like Pope, the fifth goal forced a timeout by Lambert in which they came out of on fire. The rest of the game was completely one-sided. Lambert scored the next eight goals of the game to exorcise their demons and knock off Pope.
“When they [Pope] got that goal coming out of the half, I thought the way we responded was phenomenal,” said Wehman. “That’s the way you need to play if you’re a championship team.”
Eric Overbay led the way for Lambert with three goals and two assists. Johnny Divirgilio and Jake Alesia added two goals of their own. Hayden Barnes had two assists. Goalkeeper Ben Stump had 16 saves.