A midfielder on last season’s Interstate Athletic Conference lacrosse champion squad at Landon, Rob Dunigan entered his senior season expecting to play attack. Hoping to add a veteran presence to an inexperienced group of attackmen, Coach Rob Bordley ordered the position switch last summer, and the Colgate recruit stayed there through the team’s preseason scrimmages.
But in the lineup shuffling caused by a series of injuries, Dunigan has landed back in the midfield without missing a beat. On Saturday afternoon, he helped spark No. 2 Landon from his familiar spot in a 10-8 nonleague win over No. 3 Paul VI in Bethesda.
Dunigan finished with two goals and an assist, and the team’s top midfield line, which also included juniors Jack Falk and Sam Lynch, combined for five second-half goals as the Bears handed the Panthers their first loss.
“In college, I can use my between-the-lines speed as a midfielder,” Dunigan said, “but right now, whatever coach asks me to do, I’ll be happy to do it.”
Landon (4-3) entered the contest on a two-game losing streak and had to shake off a sluggish start to snap that skid against upstart Paul VI, which already made a splash early this season with an upset of No. 6 Georgetown Prep.
The Panthers (7-1) set the pace early with the Bears struggling to get on track offensively. The home team’s lone goal in the opening period came on a fluke play in which a Paul VI defender inadvertently tossed the ball into his own net.
But Landon settled in after halftime and stopped trading goals. While junior attackman Sean O’Brien paced the Bears with three goals in the game, the team’s midfielders largely led the decisive charge. Falk’s tally three minutes, 32 seconds into the third quarter gave Landon its first lead, and the Bears held it the rest of the way.
“I knew we had enough talent to win,” first-year Paul VI Coach Bob Waters said. “Today wasn’t our day. We made some mistakes, too many mistakes, and you can’t do that against a good program like Landon and win.”
Landon graduated a pair of decorated midfielders in All-Met Hank Brown (Drexel) and Charlie Schnider (Ohio State), but the Bears have reloaded at the position as usual, even with seniors Philip Pena (hamstring) and Garrett Fellows (shoulder) sidelined.
Dunigan scored twice in the fourth quarter to extinguish Paul VI’s upset bid. He used a nifty move to split two defenders in front of the net early in the period and then added the final tally that gave Landon a three-goal lead with three minutes left.
Falk had two goals, and Lynch, a first-year starter, added a goal and an assist.
“Last year, we had [Schnider and Brown] who put the team on their back a lot,” said Falk, a Virginia recruit. ”It’s fun being able to be one of the guys to step up in bigger games now.”
Senior Robert Murphy led Paul VI with four goals.