About 15 minutes before the start of each game, while their coaches finish whatever pregame planning they have left, the Battlefield’s boys’ lacrosse team huddles around a plastic box.
Into the center walks Bobcats freshman Parker Baddley, who opens up the box to expose its contents: an industrial grade electrical switch. Baddley flips the red switch into the on position, and Battlefield is ready to play. The intensity switch has been turned on.
“It’s kind of a big deal when we turn on the switch,” Bobcats senior Patrick Gough said. “We’re usually relaxed before the game while we’re warming up, but then the moment we get on the field and start doing our actual warm-ups on the field, we turn on the switch and the whole mentality of the team switches from switched off to switched on. You hear the chant from the sideline, ‘the switch is on, the switch is on.’ ”
Although their spotless record doesn’t show it, the Bobcats (11-0, 8-0 AAA Cedar Run) battled slow starts and low energy early in games for much of the season. As a remedy, Battlefield Coach Kevin Marsh introduced the intensity switch to his team after its April 11 win over Stonewall Jackson as a way of helping his laid-back team know when it was time to get serious.
Marsh wasn’t sure initially whether or not his team would take to it, but it was apparent almost immediately that the Bobcats liked the switch. Since its introduction April 15 against Patriot, the switch has been at every Battlefield practice and game. It now lives in a stand assembled by Gough and fellow senior Cameron Maples, both of whom hope to study engineering in college.
“We’ve definitely kind of taken to it. It’s just one of those hinky mind-set games that we play, but it seemed to work the last few games we played,” Gough said. “It’s a mind-set, that the switch is on.”
The switch is the brainchild of Marsh, the Bobcats’ coach, his brother Brian Marsh, an assistant coach at Battlefield, and assistant coach David Suthers, who played for the Marsh brothers when they coached at Osbourn Park. The original intensity switch was invented by Kevin’s players at Osbourn Park, who found an old switch and repurposed the piece of electrical equipment.
Kevin introduced the switch to his team midseason at the urging of his brother and Suthers, who thought it might be just what the Bobcats needed to jump-start their performances early in games. By making Baddley, the only freshman on varsity, responsible for flipping the switch ahead of each game, the hope is that the ritual will grow into a long-term Battlefield tradition.
“I pulled it out and they just went ballistic and from there, they have taken it on,” Kevin said. “It’s fun and it’s a good time but also, it’s kind of working in that it’s acting as that kind of trigger to tell them ‘okay, we’re playing now. We’re kind of being joking and lighthearted throwing this switch, but this is our signal. Let’s go.’”
Aunon sparks Paul VI on military appreciation night
The Delaware-bound attackman scored with 1.9 seconds left in regulation to extend the game and then won it in overtime, bulling his way to the front of the cage for the goal that gave the third-ranked Panthers a 10-9 victory on Military Appreciation Night in Fairfax.
Paul VI (13-2, 5-1 WCAC) will earn at least the No. 2 seed in the Washington Catholic Athletic Conference tournament with wins in its final two regular season conference games next week. (Top-ranked Gonzaga hasn’t lost a conference game since 2009 and needs two wins in its last three games to clinch the No. 1 seed.)
“He was incredible,” Coach Bob Waters said of Aunon, who had three goals and an assist. “The fact that he even played was incredible.”
The night proved memorable for the first-year coach well before his shorthanded team wiped out a three-goal second-half deficit to celebrate the victory.
As part of its military appreciation night, the team raffled off donated lacrosse equipment and raised more than $2,000 for its Operation Warrior Outreach program.
Begun in 2010 at the Fairfax school, the program has allowed Paul VI players to collect and send more than 500 care packages to troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Thanks to a donation from Reebok, the next delivery will include 100 lacrosse sticks for the soldiers.
On Tuesday, the flag that flew above the field was carried by Army Sgt. First Class Justin Laubach, older brother of senior defenseman Bennet Lloyd, in Afghanistan and sent to the team as a token of appreciation for the packages. Assistant Coach Patrick Zannelotti is an alumnus of the school and former U.S. Army Ranger who served in Afghanistan.
The plan is for military appreciation night to become an annual event when Paul VI and DeMatha meet. The Stags have been active in supporting military charities in recent years in memory of former player Brendan Looney, a Navy SEAL who was killed in action in a helicoptor crash in Afghanistan in 2010.
Afterward, the teams presented the inaugural Fallen Hero Award to the game’s most valuable player on each team, which went to Aunon and DeMatha senior Sean Doyle (two goals). Both schools will keep a plaque with the names of the honorees going forward.
“It really put things in perspective,” Waters said. “We had this knockdown, drag out, battle of a game, but at the end, we all said a prayer for the troops and veterans and our fallen heroes that allow us to play the game of lacrosse and have great days like [Tuesday].”
Failor, Stone Bridge net milestone victory
Stone Bridge’s 11-9 win over Langley Monday night was the Saxons’ first AAA Liberty District loss in nearly four years. It was a victory earned largely on the back of a record-breaking performance from Stone Bridge goalie Brian Failor.
Failor made a team-record 23 saves Monday night against the four-time defending state champions, and senior Dylan Maltz paced the offense with seven goals.
The loss was Langley’s first district defeat since April 2009 at Madison and the first ever victory for Stone Bridge over the Saxons. The significance of the victory was not lost on Failor.
“I was definitely real nervous before it, but then as soon as it started I knew it was going to be a good game,” Failor said. “It meant so much to so many people, that I wanted to do it for them and the people that helped me along the way.”
Failor’s 23 saves eclipsed the previous Stone Bridge record of 21, set last season by then-senior Jesse Southward in a 16-15 season-opening loss to Briar Woods. Failor said he had no idea during the game that he was approaching Southward’s record and that it wasn’t until after the final horn that a Stone Bridge assistant informed him of the new record.
After the game, the team opted to give the game ball to Stone Bridge coach Scott Mitchell, but Mitchell made sure to hand the ball to Failor as he was getting ready to leave the locker room. The congratulations didn’t stop there.
“I’ve heard from so many kids who have been through the program, even before I was here,” Failor said, listing off previous Stone Bridge players such as Ricky Reyes, Matt Vincent and Southward who have contacted him since Monday night. “It’s just been wonderful.”
Junior Townsend Brown scored in overtime on Saturday to help Georgetown Prep snap a two-game losing streak against rival Landon, 8-7. . . . South River hosts Arundel on Friday with the top spot in the Anne Arundel County race at stake.
1. Gonzaga (13-2) LW: 1
2. Georgetown Prep (13-4) LW: 2
3. Paul VI (13-2) LW: 3
4. Landon (8-6) LW: 2
5. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (10-4) LW: 5
6. St. Mary’s-Annapolis (5-6) LW: 6
7. South River (9-2) LW: 7
8. Arundel (11-0) LW: 8
9. DeMatha (9-5) LW: 9
10. Chantilly (11-1) LW: NR
Dropped out: Spalding (10-7)
Bubble: Glenelg (8-2), Churchill (9-0), Chesapeake (10-1)