ROSWELL – Lambert had its chances. Competing in the Class AAAAAA championship against Roswell, the Longhorns dominated in terms of possession and shot attempts, firing 27 total shots to the Hornets’ 18. Lambert even received a couple big breaks in the form of two waived off two goals against.
But all that wasn’t enough. A late rally in the waning seconds of regulation fell short, and the Longhorns fell in the championship game for the second straight year, 6-5.
“I’m so incredibly proud of all these kids, watching them grow up,” said senior Spencer Wilson. “You seem these freshmen coming in, I didn’t even know their names, and now they’re some of the best players. They’re my brothers, my best friends. You can’t win them all, but we certainly did try.”
With 39 seconds left in the fourth quarter, Lambert forced a Roswell turnover and was able to retrieve the ball. However, the Longhorns gave the ball right back just eight seconds later, and the Hornets were able to run out the clock.
Roswell was charged with a delay of game penalty with two seconds left for storming the field prematurely, but Lambert was unable to score the tying goal with so little time to work with.
“We knew this would be a one goal game, and I think the difference tonight is they made more plays than we did,” said Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman. “We had our chances, and we just didn’t make enough plays. That’s the bottom line.
“If we played this game 10 times, they’d probably win five, we’d probably win five. On any given night, it’s whoever makes more plays.”
These two teams had met earlier in the year, and Lambert earned a come-from-behind 10-9 victory, overcoming a 9-4 deficit. Though the Longhorns were never down by more than three goals in the title bout, Roswell did everything it could to avoid another meltdown.
Netminder Brock Cohnes deserves much of the credit for Roswell’s win, as he made nine stops on the night, saving 62.4 percent of shots on goal. Additionally, the defense in front of Cohnes prevented the Longhorns from driving to the net and kept play along the perimeter.
Lambert’s star attack Sean Carruthers was held off the score sheet, as Roswell constantly double-teamed the All-American senior and prevented him from generating many quality chances. Hunter Shepherd and Justin Blastick chipped in a goal apiece in the third quarter, but the Longhorns were unable to score in the fourth.
Wehman admits that Lambert’s strength doesn’t lie in its outside shooting, and beating a team like Roswell—one that protects the net so well—usually requires that skill.
“They were dropping some guys down (low), and they probably exploited one of our weaknesses,” Wehman said. “We could have made them pay for that … we struggled with that a little bit.”
Roswell built an early 2-0 lead, but it didn’t last. Wilson got Lambert on the board with a goal 7:46 into the opening frame, and freshman middie Eric Overbay found twine less than a minute later.
But the Longhorns failed to score again until there were 52 seconds left in the second quarter, when senior Coleman Sturkey put one past Cohnes. That drought allowed Roswell to head to halftime with a 5-3 advantage.
Lambert’s defense stepped up in the second half, surrendering just one goal, but the offense simply couldn’t produce at the high-octane rate it did so often throughout the year.
Ultimately, the Longhorns came up short of their third championship in four seasons, but the program made a big statement by reaching the state final for the fourth consecutive year.
Shortly after the game ended, Wehman made sure his boys knew that one loss, no matter how significant, couldn’t diminish everything the Longhorns accomplished in 2014.
“I just told them that there’s not much that we can say that can take the burn away,” Wehman said. “It’s the nature of sports. You’re going to play these games, and there’s going to be a winner and a loser. As long as we can walk away knowing we did everything we can do.
“You want to win, but I never want to walk away from a season defining it as successful or unsuccessful based on whether we win a state championship. It’s really all about the experience, and we had a great experience with these guys.”