After the Lambert girls lacrosse team posed together to commemorate its 10-8 victory against Pope Friday in the Class 6-7A state semifinals, a few players broke off on their own to create an extra memento. They lined up, side by side, and pointed toward their center so as to frame the final score behind them.
The Longhorns have made these traditions up on the fly. Whatever emotions and rituals that have emerged during an historic state playoff run are all new. Their three state playoff victories during this current run are all the program has, and the latest one advances Lambert (16-5) to the state semifinals to play the winner of Cambridge-Walton Wednesday.
“Unbelievable history in the making,” Lambert head coach Kate Sedgwick said. “…I’m proud of how far they’ve come,” Lambert head coach Kate Sedgwick said. “
Friday was the first time the No. 3-seeded Longhorns had played at home in almost a month, and Sedgwick worried her team might be too excited for another milestone game. Then she saw her fears play out in sluggish defensive shifts, missed passes and turnovers.
So when the game was delayed after lightning struck with 3 minutes 29 seconds left in the first half and Pope leading 4-3, Sedgwick called it “a blessing.”
“We needed it,” Sedgwick said. “Pope came out much stronger.”
While it rained and thundered outside, Lambert players turned up the music in their locker room. The seniors were in control of the song selection, and they curated a playlist of thumping rap music: Drake, Migos, Kendrick Lamar, Lil Wayne and the like – anything for a mental jolt.
“We got so hyped and so into it,” Lambert senior goalkeeper Morgan Berman said.
But it didn’t work.
Or not right away, anyways. Lambert’s offense sputtered for the final 3:29 of the first half, and then Pope scored three straight goals in the second half to take a 7-3 lead in less than five minutes.
Then Peyton Smith and Gabby DiVirgilio started to control the draw, and that was enough to jumpstart the Longhorns. Cloe Latini, Sammie Caples and Ali Boisjolie scored to tie the game 7-7. Pope scored to go up 8-7 with 11:01 left in the game, but Smith tied it back up three minutes later.
When Jordan O’Rourk scored to give Lambert the lead with 4:34 left, Berman said her confidence swelled. Another goal by DiVirgilio with 3:04 left helped too.
“When we get that extra goal I know it’s our momentum, we have it,” Berman said.
But it was up to Berman to retain it.
Pope summoned all its remaining urgency for one final onslaught of offense. The Greyhounds managed three shots on goal. One sailed high. The other two Berman stopped with athletic saves.
“It was kind of a blur,” Berman said. “I just watched the stick and reacted. I knew if I saved all the balls that were left we would win. I guess I used that as motivation, and we won.”