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Bullis returns to top of IAC, beats Georgetown Prep for lacrosse title

Bulldogs 8, Little Hoyas 7

Bullis lacrosse won the IAC championship in Potomac on Friday night over Georgetown Prep. (Kyle Melnick)

In the midst of the Bullis boys’ lacrosse team’s on-field celebration after its 8-7 win over Georgetown Prep on Friday night, Coach Jeff Bellistri tried to raise his voice above rowdy students in Potomac.

“Merrick,” he yelled for the third time when defenseman Merrick Carey turned to see Bellistri pointing to a table on the sideline. “Go get it.”

Bellistri knew a crucial piece of the jubilation was missing, so Carey sprinted to the table, grabbed the silver Interstate Athletic Conference championship trophy with both hands and ran to midfield. When the senior returned, he and his teammates raised their arms, trying to touch a piece of the trophy, as they jumped and chanted “IAC.”

After losing to Prep in last year’s conference title game, Bullis’s players couldn’t wait to seize the IAC trophy, the program’s fourth in the past six seasons.

“This is like all I’ve ever wanted,” Carey said. “This is one of the best feelings I’ve ever had in my life.”

Bullis (15-4) turned to Carey and its defense to secure that feeling after midfielder Anthony Rinaldi scored with 3:52 remaining to provide the Bulldogs an 8-6 lead.

“It’s on us now,” defenseman Grant Ettinger told teammates on the sideline. “It’s on our D.”

Prep attackman Colin Burns scored with 58.7 seconds left, and the Little Hoyas (13-6) called a timeout with 27.1 seconds remaining to arrange their final play. Bullis defenders reflected on their journeys during the break.

Carey began playing lacrosse in fourth grade after the excitement he experienced watching Landon win the IAC championship on its home field. He split his freshman year between Landon and Yorktown, but he found a community when he transferred to Bullis his sophomore year.

Defenseman Cole Friedlander long dreamed about playing for Bullis while participating in Bellistri’s youth camps and watching games with older family members who attended the private school. The senior never imagined he’d be a leader with the IAC championship at stake.

After two missed shots, Prep threw the ball away, and it ended up in Bullis attackman Chase Band’s stick at midfield. The junior tossed the ball into the air, and his teammates chucked their sticks and gold helmets.

As Bullis players gathered for a photo in front of the scoreboard, Bellistri told them, “This picture is going to last forever, so let’s make it good.”

Before Friedlander could sit still, he needed to release his adrenaline. The Tufts commit stood in front of his teammates, holding the championship trophy in his right hand as he let out a yell.

“I decided to come in ninth grade,” Friedlander said, “hoping for moments like these.”