Landon 7, DeMatha 6: Sam Lynch’s late score caps Bears comeback

Landon attacker Sam Lynch and the rest of his teammates still had a foul taste in their mouths Monday after falling to rival Georgetown Prep 72 hours earlier. The team still seemed to be under the weather against DeMatha in the first quarter. The Stags won over their home crowd by jumping out to a 5-0 lead in the first 12 minutes.

But behind Lynch and a cast of veteran players, the Bears slowly chipped away,overcoming a two-goal deficit in the final two minutes to tie the game at 6. That set up Lynch’s dramatic game-winning goal, a bullet with 7.6 seconds to play to give the second-ranked Bears a 7-6 win over the No. 3 Stags on a breezy day in Hyattsville.

“We kind of had to do it on the fly. We had an initial play that didn’t go our way, and I snuck backside and got the goal,” Lynch said. “It’s really just how we define ourselves as a team. We lost to our biggest rivals [Georgetown Prep], but we’re not going to let that just ruin our season. This was a huge game for us.”

Landon (10-2) scored three unanswered goals in the final two minutes of play — including two goals from attacker Colton Rupp, the second one tying the game with about one minute remaining, to help position the Bears for their dramatic win.

The senior-laden Stags (13-1) looked as though they were going to run away with the game in the first quarter thanks to near-flawless execution on the offensive end. Tyler Najarian scored two goals in the first quarter, and Matt Brisolari added two more — including a low one-hopper with about 10 seconds left in the frame.

But Landon’s sense of urgency — and offensive pacing — picked up from that point on. The Bears started to create more fast-break opportunities and compile longer possessions in the offensive zone, which led to three second-quarter goals. The last score came right before the first-half buzzer when Sean O’Brien scored one of his two goals to cut the Stags’ lead to 5-3.

And Landon goalie Hunter Sells was stellar in the second half, giving up just one goal — a Najarian score at the six-minute mark that put DeMatha up 6-4.

“He just kept his head in the game,” Rupp said of Sells, who finished with 12 saves. “We knew he was going to.”

Both of Rupp’s goals in the final two minutes came with multiple DeMatha defenders checking him — and the game-tying score came when he beat DeMatha’s goalie while losing his footing. Landon was able to win the ensuing draw, and called its last timeout to draw up a play before Lynch improvised his goal off a pass from O’Brien.

“Even though we’re not big rivals with DeMatha, this was our first game off of a huge loss so we needed to come back strong,” Lynch said. “I thought we did that.”

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