Riley McTague (left) and No. 2 Landon bounced back after a close loss to top-ranked rivals Georgetown Prep last week. (Toni L. Sandys/The Washington Post)

A few days after his team’s loss to rival Georgetown Prep, in the second game of a season-defining stretch featuring a handful of the nation’s top teams, a quarter in and four goals down against DeMatha, Landon goalie Hunter Sells stole a quick glance at the sideline.

“My dad, he was late, he walked up and looked at the scoreboard. I saw his jaw just drop,” Sells said. “He looked at me like, ‘What the heck is going on?’”

Sells didn’t have an answer, himself reeling from what he felt was a subpar performance against Prep and seemingly helpless against a DeMatha attack looking to deliver an early, decisive blow to the Bears’ morale.

Then, between quarters, came an out-of-character, loud and stern speech from longtime Landon Coach Rob Bordley, some settling remarks from the team’s seniors, and a few deep breaths.

Three quarters later, Sells had allowed just one more goal. His fellow junior Colton Rupp, who’d also felt the weight of an off-game against Prep, had put the Bears on his back, scoring two late goals to help Landon tie it. By game’s end, the comeback was complete and — as Landon players will tell it — the season salvaged, a potential 0-2 start to the season’s most crucial stretch turned into an energizing and acceptable 1-1.

After suffering an ACL tear following his sophomore year, Cory Harris bounced back to compete in three varsity sports for Oakton. He will attend the University of Virginia for lacrosse. (Nick Plum for Synthesis/Koubaroulis LLC./The Washington Post)

“Down 5-0, we definitely had some doubt in our minds, you get shocked a little bit,” said senior Sean O’Brien, who fed classmate Sam Lynch for the game-winning goal Monday. “So to score a couple goals and start coming back, that was big for the confidence, especially of a few guys who had off games against Prep. Heading into the next week, that was big for all of us.”

Landon is in the middle of a six-game in 11-day stretch that features five nationally ranked teams and IAC rival Bullis. After No. 1 Georgetown Prep, No. 3 DeMatha, and Bullis, the Bears face national power Gilman, No. 4 Gonzaga, and the No. 5 defending IAC champions St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes.

“That win was huge,” Sells said. “Starting off 0-1 was one thing. Starting off 0-2 would have made this stretch a whole lot harder. It could’ve killed our confidence, but pulling that one out showed a lot of character on our part.”

Robinson rounding into form

Ask Virginia boys’ lacrosse coaches for teams to watch, and nearly all of them will put Robinson (5-3) on that list. Look at the first four games of the Rams’ schedule, though, and that respect may surprise you: Robinson lost three of its first four games, scoring just one goal each against W.T. Woodson and Landon.

But coaches say Robinson’s defense is the difference-maker — it has allowed three or fewer goals in four of eight games — and Coach Matt Curran said he’s seeing his offense start to click in recent weeks. As the Rams have grown into their scoring attack, they’ve turned in four straight wins, including telling victories over solid Yorktown and Westfield squads.

With more set plays and a greater emphasis on offensive execution, plus the return from injury of star scorer Chapman Jasien in recent games, Curran says he’s seen his offense “start to get it.” The numbers support that observation, as the Rams scored more than five goals once in their first four games. They’ve scored seven or more in every game since.

“I don’t want to say the results [of the early games] would be different now, but I think we’re a different team now than we were then,” Curran said. “I think those would be much different games now that our offense is starting to get it.”

The Post Top 10

St. Mary’s-Annapolis breaks into the top 10 after a 10-5 win over Calvert Hall and pushing national No. 1 Boys’ Latin to the brink in a 14-13 loss in which Cole Robertson scored seven goals. . . . Howard remained undefeated with a 9-6 win over Glenelg, the Lions’ second win over the Gladiators this season. . . . Arundel suffered its first loss of the season, 12-2, to Kent Island this week, leaving no undefeated teams in Anne Arundel County.

1. Georgetown Prep (11-0) LW: 1

2. Landon (10-2) LW: 2

3. DeMatha (12-1) LW: 3

4. Gonzaga (9-4) LW: 4

5. St. Stephen’s and St. Agnes (8-4) LW: 5

6. St. Mary’s-Annapolis (7-4) LW: NR

7. Howard (8-0) LW: 6

8. Arundel (7-1) LW: 7

9. South River (6-1) LW: 8

10. Chantilly (7-0) LW: 9

On the bubble: Wootton (6-0), Churchill (8-1), South County (7-0)