GHSA Lacrosse State Championship Roundup
Walton defeated defending state champion Lambert 8-7 in an overtime thriller at Kennesaw State’s Fifth Third Bank Stadium on Saturday to win the Boys Lacrosse Class 6A-7A State Championship. Lambert, which was making its eighth finals appearance in the last nine years—and fourth-consecutive—came into the match ranked No. 4 in the Maxpreps National poll. The Longhorns opened up an early 2-0 lead, but Walton answered to close the first quarter tied 2-2 and then trailed just 4-3 at the half.
Momentum swung Walton’s way during a dominant third quarter. The Raiders found the net three times while holding Lambert scoreless in the period. Another Walton goal early in the fourth quarter grew the lead to 7-4 before Lambert stormed back.
Ohio State commit Gerard Kane scored with 5:55 left to cut it to 7-5 and then Benny O’Rourke found the net with just 51 seconds left to make it a one-goal game. With just 5.7 seconds left to play, Kane’s behind the back pass found O’Rourke in stride, and was fired into the back of the net to force overtime.
“I just felt like that was a career-defining moment for me in terms of how I handled the pressure,” said Walton head coach Griffin Spotz. “I feel like I wanted to be icy calm and incredibly positive for the boys. That is one of the things our coaches stressed all day today was our confidence and belief in ourselves. So my focus at that moment was showing the boys confidence and reminding them of the X’s and O’s that we’ve been coaching them on all week.”
Winning the faceoff war has been an advantage that Walton has had go in its favor throughout the 2019 season and winning this particular faceoff was at a premium as the teams entered the sudden-death overtime period.
“I told them that game is over now,” said Spotz. “I said ‘you don’t have to trade 50 punches with Lambert anymore. All you have to do is have one punch,’ and I told them that I knew they had one hard punch left in them and that I have 100 percent belief, like I have all game, that we are going to win. I reminded them that we are winning these faceoffs and I told them that we are going to push tempo as soon as we did.”
The Raiders’ plan to attack right away was executed brilliantly and just 18 seconds into the overtime, senior Tate Harran fired in the game-winning goal and the celebration began as Walton captured its first lacrosse state title since 2011 and second in program history. Harran finished with two goals and so did Taylor Aston and James Gurr. Nate Hardy and Maxson Santivanez also scored for the Raiders. Lambert was led by O’Rourke’s four-goals; Kane scored twice in addition to O’Donnell’s opening goal.
In the girls Class A-5A game, Starr’s Mill defeated three-time defending state champion Blessed Trinity 11-8 to win its first-state title in school history. The Lady Panthers got off to a tremendous start and went up 7-1 with 6:27 left in the half. The lead shrunk to 8-5 at the break and the teams traded goals in the second half on three occasions before Starr’s Mill could celebrate the 11-8 victory.
Starr’s Mill was led by Ryanne King’s five goals and teammates Alyssa Angelo, Emma Grace Hepler and Ansley Wallace each scored two goals. Liberty lacrosse signee Kelly Scott led Blessed Trinity with five goals and Kaley Attaway finished with a hat-trick.
Rivals Westminster and Lovett squared off in the boys Class A-5A finals in a rematch of the Wildcats’ 9-8 overtime win against Lovett on April 5 and the result would prove to be the same with Westminster beating the Lions 9-8 in overtime to take home its sixth all-time title and second in the last three seasons.
Five different Westminster players provided the Wildcats with goals in the first half as they built a 5-3 lead. Lovett eventually climbed back, tying the game 6-6 with 4:17 left in the third quarter and going up 8-6 after Clyde Bresnahan’s fourth goal of the match with 2:27 left to play. Chance Loeffler brought Westminster back within one goal with 38.4 seconds to play and then Paul Weathington forced overtime 8-8 with just five seconds on the clock. John Izlar deposited the game-winner in overtime for his second goal of the match.
Class 6A-7A Girls
Appearing in their 15th-straight finals, the Milton Lady Eagles took home a state-record setting 13th lacrosse state title with a 20-7 victory over Mill Creek in Saturday’s finale. Milton jumped out to an early 3-0 lead and never trailed. The Hawks brought the deficit to 3-2 with 15:42 left in the half, but Milton charged ahead and took a 12-6 lead into the break before closing out Mill Creek with an 8-1 edge in the second half.