The last time Lambert’s boys lost to Northview, they responded by winning 43 consecutive games, including a pair of state championships.
One down, 42 to go.
Lambert bounced back from its first loss in almost two calendar years by defeating Roswell 7-3 on Monday at The Horn. The victory came three days after the Longhorns (2-1) saw their nation-leading, 43-game winning streak end in an 11-9 loss to Northview on Feb. 22 — the team’s first since falling to those same Titans 11-5 on Feb. 25, 2011.
"As a coaching staff we realized that we graduated a lot of guys [last spring] that had been here for three years and had played [big roles] for three years," Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman said. "We knew we were going to have a lot of guys playing that were relatively inexperienced. I think we knew that we weren’t going to win all our games and we’ve been telling our kids that the important thing is that we’ve just got to keep getting better as the year goes on.
"I think it helps the kids to have that pressure off their backs of the win streak. We’re just moving on ... playing with the end goal in sight."
Lambert jumped out to a 4-0 lead against Roswell before the end of the first quarter with the help of a goal and an assist by senior attacker Matt Geran. Sean Carruthers, Mitchell Pearson and Justin Blastick also scored during the period.
The Longhorns appeared well on their way to a blowout win when Peyton Smith (2 goals, 1 assist) added his first goal of the game off an assist from Carruthers at the 2:20 mark in the second period to boost the lead to 5-0, but they wouldn’t score again until the final three minutes of play. Lambert had two goals waved off in the third period when players were called for crease violations.
"I think we got sloppy and stopped running the offense," Wehman said. "[Roswell] also went into a zone to kind of stall the game a little bit, but that was not a good second half offensively and that’s something we’ve got to correct."
The Longhorns weren’t at their best offensively, but they kept the ball away from the Hornets most of the game. Senior Christian Shepherd won 11 of 14 faceoffs and Lambert came out on top in the ground ball battle 31-11.
Lambert’s defense also turned in two strong halves behind sophomore goalie Garrett Gomez, who saved 17 of 20 shots on goal.
"That Northview loss, we took it to heart," Gomez said. "We practiced for like two hours [on Saturday] ... watched game film and got back at it. We saw what we did wrong and hopefully [can] ... fix the things that need to be fixed."
Lambert led 5-1 at halftime and maintained that advantage until the Hornets (0-1) scored their second goal with 7:05 remaining in the game. Ryan Fendt got the Longhorns back on the scoreboard with under three minutes to play and the two teams each added a goal in the closing seconds of the game.
"On defense we pretty much graduated everybody [last spring] that started for the last three years," Wehman said. "We needed some more leadership back there [tonight], it was kind of missing Friday night. I think tonight they played with a little more intensity back there and they had a better game."
Sophomore midfielder Jake Stanford led the Longhorns with two assists.
Lambert is competing in Class 6A this season after spending the past three seasons in Class AAAA-A, but Wehman doesn’t expect there to be a learning curve for his squad.
Since the program first took the field in 2010, the Longhorns have routinely faced — and defeated — some of the top teams in the state’s largest classification.
"If you looked at our schedule the past few years, we pretty much scheduled the better teams across [all] classifications," Wehman said. "I think our kids are seasoned.
"I’m proud of our guys right now. They’re young, they’re still learning, but you know what, we’re 2-1 through three games and I think we’re doing fine right now."
Lambert will host No. 1-ranked Peachtree Ridge at 8 p.m. on Friday at The Horn.