ROSWELL — Philip White heard the crowd chanting his name, and as he crouched down to take what could have been the last faceoff his high school career, he felt his right ankle throbbing. He had no choice in how to deal with the pain.
"I blocked it out," White said.
White won the faceoff, with teammate Jonny Divirgilio picking up the loose ball, and Lambert quickly took a timeout, tied 14-14 with Centennial in the overtime period of the Class 6-7A boys lacrosse state semifinals on Wednesday. The Longhorns felt an unfamiliar anxiety, as none of their prior games during the season had even been close in the fourth quarter.
"I was a little shocked," Lambert junior Benny O'Rourk said.
The anxiety wouldn't last. The Longhorns planned to work the ball behind goal to Gerard Kane on the right side, but Kane was covered. No matter: Ryan Overbay passed to O'Rourk towards the top of the circle, and he drove towards goal and fired a shot that went in and gave Lambert a 15-14 win, ending the dramatics and sending the Longhorns to the state finals, where they're set to play at 4 p.m. on Saturday at Kennesaw State's Fifth Third Stadium.
Most of Wednesday's game had the look of the laughers that have formed the bulk of the 21-0 Longhorns' season. Centennial scored the first two goals, but Lambert started more winning faceoffs after that, and the Longhorns' possessions seldom ended without goals. They went into halftime leading 9-4.
"When we had the ball at their end of the field, we were having a lot of success," Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman said. "In that third quarter, they had the ball at our end of the field the entire quarter – it wasn't a matter of what we were doing down there (on offense)."
When White's advantage in the circle faded and the Knights started possessing more, Lambert saw its lead slip away. Centennial trailed just 10-8 at the end of the third quarter, and with 6:38 left in the game, the Knights led 13-11.
But White won the next faceoff, and the one after that, and the Longhorns scored on both of them. Centennial's Jack Risse scored with 2:54 left to put the Knights up 14-13, but Divirgilio put one in from close range with seven seconds left to send the game to overtime.
Lambert's playoff run this year has taken a remarkably similar shape to last year's. In 2017, the Longhorns beat Pope in the quarterfinals and Centennial in the semifinals. Those wins set up a championship matchup with Lassiter, and this year's Longhorns will also face the Trojans in the title game.
And revenge will be on their minds, as last year's title game ended in a 10-5 loss for the Longhorns.
"It's going to be a good one," O'Rourk said. "For sure."