Bullis juniors Alex Trippi and Leo Hanrahan were just a few feet apart Friday night when it finally seemed as if the pressure of chasing an elusive league title had become too much for the Bulldogs’ boys’ lacrosse team.
Trippi, an attackman, stood on the edge of the sideline while defender Hanrahan kneeled in the penalty box. To the dismay of teammates and coaches alike, neither could stop yelling at the other.
“You guys can’t control yourselves,” Trippi shouted to Hanrahan.
“You guys can’t score,” Hanrahan shot back.
That No. 2 Bullis eventually emerged from this drama with a come-from-behind 7-5 win over No. 4 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes in Potomac provided more evidence this group is simply different than its predecessors. The Bulldogs clinched a share of the Interstate Athletic Conference regular season title with the victory and need only to beat St. Albans next Friday to secure its first outright league championship.
But Bullis (16-2, 4-0 IAC) survived against the Saints. The game-winning goal came on a highlight-reel shot by senior Steven Shollenberger with less than seven minutes remaining, and goalie Jake Simon (nine saves) somehow made one late stop with his inner thigh.
Everyone on the Bulldogs, though, got off to a slow start.
St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (14-3, 2-2) twice took two-goal leads early in the second and third quarters. Its defense stymied the normally dynamic Bullis attack, gaining momentum with every forced turnover and timely double teams.
Senior Wade Shervin had two goals for the Saints, and senior Chase Goree (one goal, two assists) fed senior Zach Miller for the score that gave St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes a 5-3 advantage to start the second half.
“Definitely something was messed up,” Shollenberger said. “They just came out flying and we weren’t ready for that, and that’s when everyone started bickering and yelling at each other.”
But halftime brought serenity. Leaders like Shollenberger, Hanrahan and senior Griff Gosnell “just told us to relax and we’ll be fine and we’d go on a run,” Trippi said. “And we did.”
Indeed, Bullis closed the game by scoring the final four goals. Trippi began the surge, and then Shollenberger found freshman Robert Schain in front of the net off a re-dodge to tie the score at 5 midway through the third quarter.
Shollenberger’s best work, though, came while fading away from the goalmouth on the game-winner, when he flung an underhanded shot attempt through a defender’s legs and into the back of the net.
“I just wasn’t performing the way I wanted to in the first half. I knew I just had to take one to the goal,” Shollenberger said. “As one of our captains, I just knew I had to step up. It was a close game and I just needed something to go in the goal.”