GAITHERSBURG — “We’ve got one more.”
That was the phrase that was repeated over and over in the Churchill Bulldogs varsity boys lacrosse team’s post-game huddle Saturday after the undefeated Bulldogs walloped the Howard Lions (16-2) at John H. Harvill Stadum at Gaithersburg High School in the 4A state semifinals, 14-4.
“We’ve got one more.”
One more game. One more shot at avenging last year’s loss and beating Severna Park. One more chance to go down in history as the first Montgomery County team to win a lacrosse state championship.
The “one game at a time” mentality is one that Churchill head coach Jeff Fritz has been adhering to all year. The Bulldogs know what’s at stake next Wednesday at Stevenson University. However, they’re not planning on wavering from their tried and true game plan.
“There’s no pressure. We know it’s in the back of our minds,” said Fritz. “This team has been very mature. It’s still one game at a time. Yes, we do want to be the first. We’re aware of it but that’s not pushing us in any way. We’re still just taking it one day at a time.”
That mindset led to a season where nearly every game was a blowout. The Bulldogs scored double-digit goals in every game and held each opponent to single-digit scores.
The semifinals match against Howard was no different as Churchill jumped out to an early lead after junior Ryan Shure scored his only goal of the evening just 17 seconds in. Seniors Brady Altobello, Reed Moshyedi and Ryan Leonard all finished the game with hat tricks, while Shure added four assists.
The Churchill defense held the Lions to just one goal in the entire first half. Howard senior attacker Mark Bruner took advantage of Churchill’s illegal procedure penalty and tossed in the first of his two goals.
The Bulldogs led 8-1 at halftime and the offense didn’t let up in the second half. Junior goalie Andrew Robinson stayed busy, going to the ground for a save nearly every time the Lions tried to score.
“It just seemed like any mistake we made, they capitalized off of it and it was pretty telling in the final score,” said Howard head coach Jimmy Creighton. “The way the game started, the way the first half went, it seemed like anything we did wrong [led to] an immediate turnover or quick goal for them.”
After the game, Fritz and assistant coaches Brian Megill and Mike Winter stressed the importance of watching plenty of film before clashing with the two-time defending champion Severna Park Falcons. Last season, the Falcons won the game on a last-second, walk-off goal after trailing the entire game.
“We have two days here to get prepared for them and give them our best shot,” said Fritz. “Hopefully we give the same effort, just a different outcome. We will put as many hours into the day as we possibly can and we will get as prepared as we possibly can.”