With a Title, Landon Fills in a Blank

St. Stephen's/St. Agnes's Jason Neithamer checks Marek Laco of Landon, which earned the IAC title outright with its 5-1 victory in the tournament final.
St. Stephen's/St. Agnes's Jason Neithamer checks Marek Laco of Landon, which earned the IAC title outright with its 5-1 victory in the tournament final. (By Joel Richardson For The Washington Post)
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By Jeff Nelson
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, May 16, 2008

In recent years, boys' lacrosse players at Landon had to endure a pair of questions rarely encountered by their predecessors.

Said junior Josh Offit: "Everyone's always like, 'Are you going to get [an Interstate Athletic Conference title] this year? Are you going to beat [Georgetown] Prep this year?' "

While the latter question will continue to dog next year's team, the former has finally been answered in the affirmative.

Yesterday's 5-1 home win over St. Stephen's/St. Agnes in the IAC tournament final gave the third-ranked Bears an outright league championship that was both cathartic and euphoric for players in a program accustomed to filling the trophy case.

"It's been tough losing one- and two-goal games against Prep, St. Albans, even St. Stephen's" in the past few seasons, said senior goalie C.T. Fisher, who made 11 saves. "It's been really hard, but it's great to be back here."

Landon won at least a share of the IAC title every year from 1981 through 2002 and again in 2004 and 2005, when the Bears were co-champions after losing the tournament final to Georgetown Prep.

That defeat started a string of six straight losses to the Little Hoyas, not to mention a two-year championship drought in the IAC.

After Landon (18-4) finished in second place behind Georgetown Prep during the regular season, the Bears wanted a rematch with the Little Hoyas in the tournament final to gain a share of the overall title. But that opportunity never came.

When St. Stephen's/St. Agnes (8-11) completed an upset of top-ranked Georgetown Prep last Saturday, Landon's seniors knew they wouldn't get one more shot at the Little Hoyas. But they also realized it gave them an opening to an outright IAC title, which they seized.

After more than 15 minutes of scoreless lacrosse, a trio of junior midfielders -- David Chakola, David Mann and Matt Morrison -- gave Landon a 3-0 lead heading into halftime.

St. Stephen's/St. Agnes junior Ian Gordon scored the third quarter's lone goal to make things interesting, but Offit and senior Mike Grossman sealed the win with fourth-quarter goals.

By beating the Saints, the Bears' second-place regular season finish and first-place tournament finish gives them more total points than the Little Hoyas, who won the regular season and finished third in the tournament.

"It's kind of ironic that I won't beat Prep in my four years," said Grossman, whose momentary disappointment transformed into a smile as he added, "But I've still got an IAC championship."

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