KENNESAW — Rich Wehman won't say it directly. Each of the Lambert boys director of lacrosse's four state championship teams have had unique strengths, and each was better than the rest of its competition, which was the most important factor. But he has to admit that 2018's team, which completed an undefeated season on Saturday by beating Lassiter 12-6 in the Class 6-7A state championship game, is on a level of its own.
The Longhorns finished 22-0 on the season and, in every game except one, scored double-digit goals while holding their opponent in single digits. Saturday's game was yet another in which Lambert was obviously superior. The Longhorns fell behind 2-1 early in the first quarter, but they then scored seven unanswered goals and led 9-4 at the end of the third quarter.
They were both efficient and clinical on offense, scoring on protracted possessions with multiple shots on goal and quick moves up the field that ended in shots from just outside the crease. Six different players scored for Lambert.
They also showed few holes on defense, pressuring the Trojans in the midfield, limiting direct looks at goal and leaning on goalkeeper Brendan Wehman to make a number of important saves.
"I haven't seen a better game that he's played," Longhorns senior Jonny Divirgilio said of Brendan Wehman. "He really pushed it for us. He was that spark that we needed."
The Longhorns were motivated by the past, both recent and not as much so. In their semifinal matchup with Centennial on Wednesday, Lambert gave up a six-goal lead to the Knights and had to score with seven seconds remaining to force overtime, where they ended up winning 15-14 on Benny O'Rourk's goal. That game was a welcome jolt for the Longhorns heading into the matchup with the Trojans, who had beat them 10-5 in last year's championship game.
That loss, which included an on-field fight in the final minutes that led to multiple ejections, was something Lambert constantly looked back on in its drive to this year's title, from when the current group got together in November.
"It was a revenge tour this year," Divirgilio said.
Rich Wehman is often asked about where this season's Longhorns squad ranks among the rest that he's had. It isn't the first undefeated group — the teams in 2012 and 2016 also had that quality — but the quality of the sport in the state has improved, getting closer to the standard Lambert was among the first to set.
"I think you'd be hard-pressed to find another team that played the schedule we played, historically, and won so many games by as many goals," Wehman said.