Junior Matt Leonard had already found the net four times in Monday night’s Maryland 4A/3A West region semifinal against rival Wootton, but suddenly the Churchill boys’ lacrosse team needed its top attackman more than ever.
After an unlikely score by goalie Matt Hoy drew the Patriots within one in the final minutes, the Towson recruit seized the momentum right back for the home team.
Leonard’s fifth goal — a mid-range rip off a pass from from freshman Louis Dubick in a two-man up situation — provided needed breathing room, and Churchill held on for a 9-6 win in Potomac. The Bulldogs stopped Wootton’s run of six consecutive region titles and advance to host Wednesday’s region final against Sherwood, which beat Walter Johnson in double overtime, 6-5.
“My heart kind of stopped,” Leonard said of his final goal. “All the sudden it began to hit me, ‘Wow, we might be about to win this game.’ ”
Churchill (13-2) came into the season with plenty of buzz as a favorite to end Wootton’s recent domination of Montgomery County, but the group lost momentum with an overtime defeat to the Patriots on April 25.
In the rematch, the Bulldogs never trailed, going ahead to stay on Leonard’s goal three minutes into the game. Dubick and sophomore Matt Moshyedi each scored a pair of goals to help keep the lead.
The Patriots struggled offensively throughout but managed to cut the lead to one twice in the fourth quarter. Both times Leonard provided the next goal, helping bring the Bulldogs to within one win of their first state tournament berth since 2002.
The expectations “went to our heads a little bit, our egos got a little out of control,” said senior Cameron Moshyedi, who had three assists. “With a couple losses, we learned that we’re beatable, but the way we’re playing right now, we’re not, and we just want to keep that up.”
Thanks to his penchant for clearing the ball on his own, Hoy produced a goal and an assist in addition to his eight saves, and senior Chris Cornelius scored twice for Wootton (10-6).
Churchill girls advance
Earlier in the night, the Churchill girls’ team knocked off Blake, 21-16, to clinch a spot in the Maryland 4A/3A West final. Senior Maddy Flax scored seven goals and senior Mairin Hall added six goals and five assists in the victory.
The Bulldogs, who are seeking their third straight state tournament berth, pulled ahead for good with a run of five straight goals in the final four minutes of the first half. They will travel to top-seeded Sherwood, which advanced with a 15-9 win over Blair, for Wednesday’s region final.
“Our ultimate goal, especially for the seniors, is to win three times in a row,” said Hall, a Bucknell recruit. “That’s the way we want to go out. We want to win, and we don’t want another tight game like this.”