ATLANTA – The comeback never did come.
The Lambert boys lacrosse team had made a minor habit of doing that in this year's state playoffs, erasing deficits of multiple goals well into the game in its wins over Pope and Centennial, leading into the championship game on Saturday against Lassiter.
But at Lakewood Stadium, under a cloudy sky that produced storms and stretched the halftime break to more than an hour, Lambert fell behind and stayed behind. The Longhorns fell, 10-5, their first loss against an in-state opponent since 2015.
"We didn't come to play," Lambert junior Jonny DiVirgilio said. "It was that simple."
Saturday's matchup was a repeat of last year's state championship, which Lambert won to complete an undefeated season. But Lassiter was in control early and consistently, scoring three goals before Bradley Wehman could give the Longhorns their first.
Lambert had the advantage in some peripheral stats, winning 14 of the game's 19 face-offs and 20 ground balls to the Trojans' 19.
But the Longhorns struggled to find an offensive rhythm, managing just 24 shots to Lassiter's 35. They didn't excel in ball security, either, committing 18 turnovers to Lassiter's 12.
"We were just throwing the ball away," DiVirgilio said. "We couldn't get anything going. We didn't have any rhythm or anything."
Lambert (20-2) trailed 8-4 with four minutes left in the third quarter, well within the time required to execute one of the scoring flurries the Longhorns had put together earlier in the playoffs.
Shortly after the ensuing faceoff, Lambert defenseman Jaryd Jean-Felix steamrolled Lassiter's Ben Perry as he pursued the ball near midfield, a hit Perry was slow to get up from.
The play seemed to only energize Lassiter, though: Jean-Felix was penalized for the hit and for being offsides on the play, putting Lambert a man down for 2 minutes 30 seconds.
The Trojans scored while they had the advantage, and when Perry got up, he darted past the sideline and over to Lassiter's student section, waving his arms and sending the students into a frenzy.
The game had some chippiness left in it, though, as a fight sprung up around midfield with less than a minute left in the game, leading to multiple ejections, including Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman.
Lambert's was downcast after the game, but Wehman urged the team to not let the loss drown out the Longhorns' myriad achievements in recent years.
"I said, 'When the smoke clears and you get over the disappointment, what I want you to do is look at what you've accomplished,'" Wehman said.