By J Banzet ’20
After winning its first game of the season at Flint Hill on April 2, the Varsity Lacrosse team lost four straight contests by a combined score of 51-25. The games against Episcopal and Norfolk Academy saw Woodberry struggle throughout the game, while the Tigers were able to challenge Collegiate and Cape Henry Collegiate at times, but couldn’t find enough consistency to pull out the victories. Losing four in a row is never easy to deal with, and Woodberry desperately needed a victory to get themselves back on track and to salvage something out of the season. The opportunity arose at exactly the perfect time: on the road against Potomac last Tuesday.
On a hot afternoon and playing on a grass field for the first time all year, the Tigers battled hard to come home victorious against the Panthers of Potomac School. The victory was a total team effort, highlighted by five different players scoring goals and the defense only giving up five on its end. Mack Daniels ’19 scored three goals, Luke Blundin ’20 recorded a goal and an assist, and Ben Burgess ’19 tallied another goal to lead the offensive attack. Wyatt Martin ’21 played arguably his best game of the season between the pipes, recording a 62% save percentage with the help of J Banzet ’20, Peter Moore ’21, and Walker Antonio ’19 on defense. Face-offs continued to be a problem area for the Tigers, but strong wing play from Burgess and Taylor Tucker ’19 contributed to the effort by picking up numerous ground balls throughout the afternoon.
The real story of the game was how poorly Potomac cleared the ball, or perhaps more accurately, how strong the Tigers riding game was. After deploying a ten-man ride, equivalent to a full-court press in basketball, Woodberry was able to hold its opposition well below 50% in its clearing percentage. The entire team deserves credit for this advantage, but Antonio played a significant role in his team’s success. His six forced turnovers and combination of speed and aggressiveness created a chaotic situation for the Panthers to try and clear past.
The most important sequence of the game came in the last two minutes and thirty seconds. Woodberry, up 7-5 off a goal from Daniels, needed to close out the game and earn its second victory of the season by simply holding onto the ball. Turning the ball over four times during those 150 seconds did not help the Tigers’ case, but fortunately enough, the ten-man ride was able to turn the Panthers over every time they got it back. As a result, Potomac did not possess the ball in the offensive half until there were about two seconds left in the game, and at that point, Woodberry had clinched its second W of the season.
Following its win at Potomac on Tuesday, the Tigers played host to the defending state champion Paul VI on Friday and lost by a score of 13-6. The offense struggled early to find its rhythm but was able to find some success in the second quarter. Daniels had three points (2G, 1A) and Hawkins Schnabel ’20 scored two goals to lead the Tigers. Defensively, giving up 13 goals is never good, but there were certainly a number of bright spots for the unit to grow from. At times, the trio of Banzet, Moore, and Antonio played near-perfect defense with timely slides and quick recoveries. In the end, however, clearing woes continued and gave Paul VI too many opportunities on offense, and even though the amount of turnovers shrunk from 19 against Potomac to 10 against PVI, they came at ultimately the most costly times of the game. Martin once again played well in the cage, recording 12 saves in route to a 46% save percentage against, amongst others, a Johns Hopkins commit and a Loyola (MD.) commit.
Consistency has been Woodberry’s issue all year, but the Tigers have two chances this week to work towards improving its odds of making the state tournament. First, Woodberry travels to Benedictine on Tuesday for a 4:30 game against the Cadets. Benedictine has been struggling as of recently, so the Tigers should have a good chance to add another W to the win column. Then on Friday, Woodberry hosts Prep-League opponent Trinity Episcopal from Richmond for the first time in many years. Only two spots separate the two teams in the state rankings, so the game should be close and well-fought to the very end. Face-off is at 4:30 at Johnson Stadium.