It still hasn’t happened for the Lambert lacrosse team.
In the state quarterfinals last year, the Longhorns had to grit up and fight through a close game against Pope, overcoming a 6-4 halftime deficit in an eventual 12-9 win. But this season, at the same stage of the playoffs and against the same team, Lambert once again sucked the competitiveness out of the game early, leading 9-0 at halftime, activating the running clock halfway through the third quarter and notching a 13-6 win.
The Longhorns are still undefeated, now at 21-0 on the season, and they still haven’t allowed double-digit goals in a game. Every win has followed the same pattern: 12 or more goals for them, six or fewer for the opponent.
“I think it’s going to get tougher before it’s over,” Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman said. “But none of these games are really easy – our kids are just playing really well right now.”
Pope was active in the Longhorns’ half early on, forcing enough saves from Lambert keeper Andrew Tippett that Wehman said the junior “bailed out” the Longhorns’ defense. But when Lambert’s offense could work, the Longhorns seldom failed. Gerard Kane opened the scoring with 6:42 left in the first quarter, and Peyton Miller scored from close up, with Kyle Lewis assisting, with just over five minutes remaining in the quarter.
Kane scored again with 1:35 left, Jonny DiVirgilio got his first with 30 seconds remaining, and Lewis ripped one in less than seven seconds after that.
“When we come out pretty strong, we have a good chance of winning,” DiVirgilio said. “They can’t come back. We just keep stepping on their throats.”
The Greyhounds did outscore Lambert in the second half, but it was mainly against the Longhorns’ subs.
Wehman, for one, doesn’t have any concerns about Lambert’s lack of down-to-the-wire finishes. He points to their game on March 10 at Lake Norman (N.C.), when they had to overcome a huge faceoff disadvantage and led just 4-3 at halftime, as an instance of the Longhorns being pushed.
That’s not a box for Wehman to check, though.
“I don’t worry about that,” he said. “If we can win the state championship, it doesn’t matter to me.”
That’s the game that’s still driving Lambert, the one that they lost 10-5 to Lassiter last year in a contentious, rain-delayed matchup. The Trojans are still alive, and if they and Lambert both win out from their side of the bracket, a rematch will happen.
But the Longhorns first have to face Centennial on Wednesday. Lambert beat the Knights 15-4 earlier this season, but the semifinal game is at Centennial’s stadium, which has proven to be a particularly hostile environment. In the semifinal against the Knights last year, the Longhorns erased a 6-2 disadvantage and won 12-7.
And if Lambert eventually does get in one of those close situations, the Longhorns won’t panic.
“I feel like we have the tools and the players were, if we do have a close game, we can fight through it,” DiVirgilio said.