In the jovial mess of parents, friends, and rain-soaked players and coaches that meandered about Winston Churchill’s sideline Monday night, searching for someone to hug or shout with, perhaps senior Cameron Moshyedi’s supporters offered the most unique comment.
“Thank goodness you remembered your peanut butter this time,” they said after Moshyedi helped the Churchill boys lacrosse team knock off six-time defending region champion Thomas S. Wootton, 9-6, in the 4A/3A West Region semifinals.
Here’s the backstory on Moshyedi’s food choices: The last time Churchill faced Wootton, he regrettably had cream cheese, and the game didn’t end too well for the Bulldogs. But before Monday night’s clash between top-seeded Churchill and Wootton, Moshyedi made sure he executed his pregame ritual to perfection.
“Before every game, I try to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich because it’s the only thing I can make,” Moshyedi said, eye black running down his cheeks from the constant rain. “Last game [a loss against Wootton], I didn’t get to do it and you saw what happened. It’s just a little thing. It probably didn’t do much, but it’s all in my head.”
From now until next spring — for the first time in six years — the Bulldogs will be in the heads of the Patriots. Churchill’s thrilling victory in front of an energized crowd in Potomac marked the first time in six seasons that the Bulldogs beat Wootton. Churchill will play host to Sherwood on Wednesday in the region title game.
Junior Matt Leonard was sensational. The Towson University-bound attacker scored five goals and assisted another while freshman superstar Louis Dubick added two goals and two assists for the Bulldogs (13-2).
“What can you say? You’ve gotten the victory you’ve been dying for for six years,” said Churchill coach Jeff Fritz. “It was nice to get over that hump.”
After a potentially game-changing fourth-quarter goal by Wootton goalkeeper Matt Hoy — who went coast-to-coast on the play and fired a strike by Churchill goalie Peter Hurd (11 saves) — pulled the Patriots within 7-6, Leonard answered with a tremendous blast from the left side. With Churchill on a two-man advantage, Leonard received a pass from Dubick and shot the ball by Hoy (11 saves) with 2 minutes, 40 seconds left in the game.
Sophomore Matt Moshyedi (two goals, one assist) added an empty-netter with 51 seconds remaining and the sideline erupted in high jumps.
“Words can’t explain it,” Leonard said. “Everyone came out, we were all focused, we knew what we had to do and we executed. I definitely got a little hot streak going. My teammates were giving me the ball and we were all finding each other.”
Dubick, who leads the Bulldogs with 46 goals (Leonard has 45), scored once in the first quarter and again in the third. He noticed a difference in Leonard’s play Monday compared to Churchill’s regular season meeting against Wootton, a 10-9 overtime victory by the Patriots on May 2.
“He worked harder than everybody else. That’s what he does best, he finishes,” Dubick said of Leonard. “We tried to get him the ball as much as we could and he did the work for us.”
Churchill led 3-0 and 4-1 before Wootton attacker Chris Cornelius scored two goals to end the first half. Still, the Bulldogs possessed the ball for a large portion of the game, making it difficult for Wootton (10-6) to mount a comeback.
“We fought back, but it wasn’t enough. It is what it is. It’s tough for us,” Wootton coach Colin Thomson said.
Since the overtime loss on May 2, the Bulldogs have won four games in a row and have scored 58 goals during that span. Fritz said he has noticed a difference and directly attributes it to that loss.
“It helped fuel us, there’s no doubt,” Fritz said. “For about two weeks after that loss we really got after it because we hated that taste in our mouths. We took it out on a few of our opponents and then we exacted revenge [Monday].”
Fritz said the Bulldogs tried a new pregame routine to improve the team’s mental preparation. With rain falling, the Bulldogs warmed up on a field adjacent to the main stadium while Wootton stretched and ran drills in front of the fans trickling through the gates.
“We definitely came out more focused and more determined than we have in the last few games,” Fritz said. “It’s nice to see that first-quarter fire that we haven’t seen in a month and a half.”
That determination led to crisp play. Churchill connected on two of its back-door cuts and won many of the individual battles in the offensive zone. It was a marked difference from the game of catch-up the Bulldogs played against Wootton earlier this month.
“We know what our goals are,” Moshyedi said. “Our goal is not to simply beat Wootton, it’s to beat Wootton, go to the regional finals and win a state championship. We got over the first hump, but we’ve got a couple more goals to accomplish.”
Goal number one, of course, being to always remember the peanut butter.
Winston Churchill 9, Thomas S. Wootton 6
Thomas S. Wootton 0 3 1 2 — 6
Winston Churchill 3 1 2 3 — 9
Thomas S. Wootton (10-6): Curt Brooks (10:55, 2nd), Chris Cornelius assisted by Matt Hoy (3:45, 2nd), Cornelius assisted by Myles Romm (1:10, 2nd), Austin Schoenfeld (0:10, 3rd), Romm assisted by Schoenfeld (8:27, 4th), Hoy (4:36, 4th)
Winston Churchill (13-2): Matt Leonard (9:00, 1st), Louis Dubick assisted by Matt Moshyedi (5:00, 1st), Leonard assisted by Cameron Moshyedi (4:09, 1st), Leonard assisted by Cameron Moshyedi (5:43, 2nd), Dubick (10:58, 3rd), Matt Moshyedi assisted by Leonard (10:20, 3rd), Leonard assisted by Cameron Moshyedi (6:54, 4th), Leonard assisted by Dubick (2:40, 4th), Matt Moshyedi assisted by Dubick (0:51, 4th)