At a Glance ...
Team: 2011 Lambert Longhorns
Coach: Rich Wehman
Result: Beat Pope 14-7 in Class 4A-1A state championship
Quote: “We built so much momentum so fast. Because of those teams being so good so early, they then generated a lot of interest for our kids in the area to play the sport. Then we were off and running.”
— Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman
The Forsyth County News sports staff is revisiting each county school’s first team state championship. This story is on the 2011 Lambert boys lacrosse team.
The expectations for Lambert’s 2011 boys lacrosse team couldn’t have been greater.
The school opened in 2009, but that didn’t stop the Longhorns from marching through the Class 4A-1A playoffs in their inaugural season, where they were eventually put out in the semifinals by Lovett.
It was an unprecedented mark for a first-year program, which had plowed its way through the state and to an eventual 18-2 record.
“We definitely had some guys that were pretty starry-eyed in that semifinal game,” said Tim Geran, who graduated in 2011. “It’s funny to look back on it. We definitely had some guys that maybe weren’t ready for the step, but I think that helped us a ton going into next year.”
But 2011 was a different story. Lambert returned its entire roster, and the rest of the state had taken notice.
Lambert opened the season in dominant fashion, a 17-0 victory against South Forsyth. But it’s what happened two days later that set the tone for the rest of the season.
The Longhorns came crashing back to earth with an 11-5 loss against Northview on Feb. 25. Sure, Northview was one of the top teams in the state, but Lambert expected to win every game – or at the very least be competitive.
In retrospect, Lambert director of lacrosse Rich Wehman believes the loss was a blessing in disguise.
“That was probably the best thing to ever happen to that team,” Wehman said. “We played about as poorly as we could play in that game.”
For Adam Seal, who graduated in 2011, the loss proved the Longhorns were fallible, and allowed the senior class to take stock of their final season.
“I think taking that one early was awesome for us, just because it let us grow,” Seal said. “And yeah, the practice after, we really just redefined why we’re here, what we’re doing, what we’re going to be about and why this season matters to us. It was our last chance for all the seniors to go out there and do what we’ve got to do. I think that loss in particular really helped us focus on the whole season.”
Geran said he will never forget that practice.
“It was a Friday game, and we weren’t going to practice on Saturday because we didn’t practice on Saturdays,” Geran said. “After the game I remember just sitting there, and it was just like we just lost that semifinal game all over again. We ended up practicing that Saturday, and I just remember that practice being one of the most intense practices of the season – maybe of my playing career, even in college. You could just tell people hit a different level. From that point forward, we weren’t losing another game.”
And the Longhorns didn’t.
Lambert’s championship desires were set ablaze during the month of March.
On March 1, four days after the Northview loss, Lambert routed defending Class 1A-4A champion Westminster, 14-5. Ten days later, the Longhorns took down defending Class 5A champion Milton, 11-3. At the end of the month, Lambert knocked off Walton, 8-2, which at the time was the No. 2 team in Class 5A.
The Longhorns outscored their opponents 125-40 during the month of March.
“They had a real tendency about them, which great teams have, where when people were playing against us, you always waited for that run where all of a sudden in a 10-minute stretch, they could just run you out of the game real quick,” Wehman said.
Lambert breezed through its area schedule, and stepped out of state multiple times, beating teams from North Carolina, Tennessee and Texas.
Once the playoffs arrived, the Longhorns had won 16 straight games.
Lambert quickly dismantled Greenbrier in the first round of the playoffs, 17-1, despite the game lasting just three quarters because of lightning.
Eleven Lambert players scored a goal in that game, led by Peyton Smith’s three and Brady Wilson’s two, a testament to Lambert’s depth.
“Out of that group of about 30, there was about 15 or 16 of them that either went on to play Division I lacrosse or had the opportunity to go play Division I lacrosse,” Wehman said. “We just inherited a really, really talented group of athletes. They just had a great attitude. They worked very hard and were very committed. We basically caught lightning in a bottle, if you want to know the truth.”
Lambert rolled into the semifinals after a decisive 13-4 win against McIntosh. Adam Seal led the team with four goals, while Connor Butz added three.
“(Seal) was a huge player for that team. Also, Connor Butz only played one year of varsity and set a single-season scoring record, which is pretty awesome. His record still holds up,” Geran said. “The cool part about that team now is they’re your high school buddies and now you get to watch them kind of grow up. A lot of us are still friends and a lot of us still keep in pretty close contact.”
The semifinals brought a rematch against Westminster, but the result was even more lopsided than the first meeting, as the Longhorns walloped the Wildcats 13-1.
Lambert’s win matched the Longhorns against Pope in the Class 1A-4A state championship, with a chance to win the first team championship in school history.
“We knew going into that game that we weren’t going to lose that game, especially after that 13-1 win over Westminster,” Geran said. “We didn’t expect to beat them that badly.”
Lambert hosted the state championship game at The Horn, where an estimated 3,500-4,000 spectators watched history unfold.
“I think that helped build the program a little bit, because we had a lot of young kids. It’s funny talking to some of our players over the years, and a lot of them were at that game,” Geran said. “So a lot of them got interested in the game because of that. It’s pretty neat to hear those stories from parents and from kids who ended up being there.”
Lambert scored a flurry of early goals against Pope, carrying an 8-4 lead into the late stages of the third quarter. Pope scored three straight goals to make it 8-7, but Lambert netted six unanswered goals – including five goals in the game’s last 3:21 – to win 14-7.
“I remember (Geran) coming down the field in one of the early plays and just dishing the ball to me on the doorstep and me putting it home,” Seal said. “Even from there, it felt like we were a team that was in control. It felt like one of those nights that things were going to kind of go our way and we were going to do all of our little roles and responsibilities to the best of our power in order to get that win.”
Seal had five goals for the Longhorns, including one highlight reel score.
“I think definitely the Adam Seal play where he intercepted the goalie,” Geran said. “I don’t know what the score was at the time, but he intercepted the pass from the goalie, and there’s the YouTube video, which is the only reason I remember, and the crowd just goes wild. He picked it off and scored a goal. That was a pretty awesome moment.”
Lambert captured another title the following year, then again in 2016 and one more in 2018.
The program has yet to endure a losing season and owns just four losses at The Horn.
“We built so much momentum so fast,” Wehman said. “Because of those teams being so good so early, they then generated a lot of interest for our kids in the area to play the sport. Then we were off and running.”
Geran, who played lacrosse at Mercer University, is currently the Longhorns’ offensive coordinator, where he coaches alongside his father, Tim Geran, and his former head coach, Rich Wehman.
“Being able to coach with Coach Rich is such a pleasure. I’ve definitely looked up to him for a lot of my life,” he said. “Walking around that stadium, I still get butterflies remembering the high school days. Being able to coach and be competitive again in that environment is always fun. You definitely wish you were out there again. I’m so thankful that I had the opportunity to do that.”
“I’m sure there’s plenty of other guys who could do it, but I’m thankful that I was one of the first ones to graduate – that’s one of the only reasons why,” Geran said with a laugh.
Seal played collegiate lacrosse at High Point University, and at one point in 2013 was one of three Lambert alums on the Panthers’ roster – Seal, Zack Price, Braxton Roman.
Price, an All-Southern Conference selection, was drafted in 2016 by the Denver Outlaws of Major League Lacrosse.
Seal, who is an operations manager with The Hartford in Charlotte, North Carolina, said he still occasionally finds time to take in a game at The Horn.
“I currently live in Charlotte, but I would visit Timmy and those guys and we would go to those games and support them on the sidelines,” Seal said. “Even being older, it’s still fun to see how that legacy continues and the job that Coach Wehman and the other staff’s been able to continue to just put out great teams year after year.
“It’s true what championships tend to do, is create those lifelong friendships. It’s funny, we’ll all be hanging out somewhere and somebody will bring it up and we’re all talking about high school lacrosse. That’s how it goes – talking about the glory days. All these guys who played at the highest level of college lacrosse sitting around talking about high school, but it definitely had an impact.”