If there’s truly such thing as a momentum swing, a perfect example would be the crunching hit that Jaryd Jean-Felix laid on Jack Sadighian in the opening minutes of the Lambert boys lacrosse team’s game against Cambridge on Tuesday night.
The players’ pads cracked together loudly, a gasp rose from the crowd and benches, and Sadighian staggered up from the turf.
“I’m not really out there looking to kill someone,” said Jean-Felix, a senior defender with the Longhorns. “But if (the opportunity) is there, I’ll definitely throw the body at him just to get the crowd into it, get the boys into it a little bit.”
But the Longhorns’ 11-5 win, which clinched the Area 5 championship and a top seed in the state playoffs, did not come as easily as the early event might have foreshadowed.
Rich Wehman, the team’s director of lacrosse, wasn’t expecting a romp. He had studied the Bears film and concluded that they were the second-best team on the area, behind the Longhorns.
They showed as much in the game’s early stages, slicing through the midfield and finding holes in Lambert’s defense, at least enough to make use of goalkeeper Ben Clark’s early hot streak. Halfway through the second quarter, the game was tied at 3-3.
The Longhorns’ offense eventually picked up speed, though. Alex Walker collected a feed from Eric Overbay for a short-range finish to make it 4-3 with 5:54 to play in the second quarter, and less than a minute later, Jonny DiVirgilio fed Kyle Lewis for a goal. Lambert went a man up with just over 25 seconds to go, and with four ticks remaining in the half, Peyton Miller finished with a flick behind his head to make the score 6-3.
“Our kids, when the shots weren’t falling for us … when that happens, you can press a little bit, or you can just kind of stay calm and continue to do what you do and hope that they fall,” Wehman said. “I thought our guys did just a great job of doing that.”
Cambridge didn’t disappear in the second half, scoring with 9:27 left in the fourth quarter to make it 7-5, but Lambert scored the next four goals to stretch the lead.
“We’ve won so many games by a wide margin this year, and our offense has played really well, but our defense hasn’t had the pressure on them all year,” Wehman said. “Tonight, they did, and tonight, they stepped up, so it’s good to see that. It’s good to see that we have that.”
The final score was the closest the Longhorns (14-1, 8-0 Area 5) have seen this year against an in-state opponent, and their 11 goals was the second-lowest total in a game this season, next to the six they put in against national powerhouse Calvert Hall on March 11.
It was good enough for a win, though, and it takes some pressure off the Longhorns for their last area game of the regular season, which comes against South Forsyth on April 27.