Boys’ lacrosse: Landon, Bullis advance to IAC final

May 9, 2012

After briefly celebrating Wednesday’s 6-4 win over Georgetown Prep with students and members of the varsity baseball team who had just finished a game up the hill, the Landon lacrosse team huddled quickly and began the soggy walk back to its locker room.

In most years, a May meeting between the Interstate Athletic Conference rivals has ended with a title celebration. This time, the rain-soaked Bears were just happy to have survived a back-and-forth semifinal with a chance to play one more game.

Seniors Hank Brown and Matt Potolicchio scored two goals apiece and senior goalie Alex Joyce made 10 saves as Landon finished off a season sweep of the Little Hoyas for the first time since 2004. The fourth-ranked Bears will travel to No. 2 Bullis, an 8-6 winner over No. 10 Episcopal, for Saturday’s title game.

“Winning this game, no matter what, is huge,” Joyce said. “We love to beat Prep. The tournament’s not the same if you don’t play them.”

Landon (12-6) lost five of its first eight games before an 8-4 win at Georgetown Prep on April 11 jumpstarted its season. The Bethesda power particularly struggled in the early going in close contests with four one-goal losses.

On Wednesday, Landon made the plays through a steady rain in a sloppy second half to finish off the Little Hoyas. After Georgetown Prep took a 4-3 lead on senior Jack Cleary’s goal 64 seconds into the second half, it never scored again.

Brown tied the game less than a minute later, causing a turnover and rushing downfield for a transition goal. Sophomore Jack Falk gave the Bears the lead for good five minutes later with another transition goal. This one began with one of Joyce’s five third-quarter saves.

Potolicchio added a late third-quarter tally for insurance, and Landon held on with a mix of smart ball-control and timely defensive stops. The Bears kept the ball for more than four minutes on one fourth-quarter possession, and in tough scoring conditions, the Little Hoyas didn’t put any of their seven shots in the final quarter on net.

The one-goal losses “were games where we didn’t execute to the full plan,” Brown said. “Today, we won by two because we did execute when we needed to. At the end, it comes down to intensity [and] who wants it more.”

Cleary and senior Kyle Shanahan paced Georgetown Prep (15-6) with two goals apiece.

In the other semifinal, seniors Matt Opsahl and Kylor Bellistri and junior Mitchell Goldberg tallied two goals apiece to help top-seeded Bullis beat Episcopal to advance to its first IAC title game.

The Bulldogs trailed for much of the first half and didn’t take their first lead until late in the third quarter, but they closed strong to continue their unprecedented run. In the poor weather conditions, sophomore Joe Stucky dominated on faceoffs, winning 15 of 18, to help Bullis control the tempo down the stretch.

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