When the Winston Churchill High School boys lacrosse team started walking towards midfield for a team photograph after its win against Thomas S. Wootton Wednesday evening, it didn’t get far before noticing two of its members couldn’t make the walk.
Matt Leonard and Ian Pollekoff were sitting on the grass near the team bench nursing cramps. Leonard was in the most noticeable pain, with an ice pack on his right knee and his eyes wincing to the point where they were starting to water.
Despite the pain, the seniors were on the field in the closing minutes of the 12-11 victory against the Patriots, which clinched the Bulldogs’ first Montgomery 4A South Division title.
“It’s nice we won our first division championship in Churchill history. And just to get a big win and keep our undefeated season going is nice,” said Churchill sophomore Louis Dubick, who had three goals and three assists. “They came out and gave us a great test. We haven’t had many close games. This and Walter Johnson (a 13-11 win) really gave us a thrill. ... We know we can play better. We know we didn’t see their best. So it’s a relief but we know we’re going to see them again.”
Dubick’s third assist, which came on a Derek Altobello goal late in the first half, set the Churchill single-season record for assists, breaking his own mark of 48 from a year ago.
Entering the second half trailing 7-5, Wootton (7-2, 4-1) gave the Bulldogs (10-0, 5-0) all they could handle.
The Patriots outshot Churchill 27-14 after halftime and turned the ball over six fewer times (13-7) in that span. Wootton made its move in the fourth quarter with goals from Austin Schoenfeld, Joe Kelly and Jake Mitchell bringing the game within a goal.
Matt Moshyedi scored what would be the game-winning goal with 3 minutes, 31 seconds remaining on an assist from Connor Martin.
Mitchell again made it a one-goal game with 2:45 left on an assist from Schoenfeld. The Patriots possessed the ball in the final minute and called a timeout with 18 seconds remaining. They turned the ball over before attempting a shot.
Churchill goalie Matt Gloger made two key stops in the final three minutes. One shot bounced off his chest with just less than three minutes remaining. The second, with 1:22 left, was on an unimpeded, seven-yard shot from Schoenfeld.
“Matt Gloger played very, very well tonight,” Churchill coach Jeff Fritz said. “He’s a great ball-stopper. I can’t believe how he stopped — he had some point blank saves tonight. ... Our defense stepped up. I thought they played very well tonight. They’re the ones we’ve been giving a hard time to all year. They came to play tonight. I was very impressed with our defensive effort, especially against a great offensive team like Wootton.”
Said Gloger: “I was just nervous, butterflies going crazy, and I just came out here and played my best. I got a couple saves in the beginning and it boosted my confidence. I just played my game.”
Kelly scored five goals for the Patriots and had two assists.
Churchill, which had just one other game this season decided by fewer than six goals, scored five unassisted goals. Dubick scored the first two goals of the game unassisted, working from behind the net, moving to his right and shooting the ball. Leonard scored his first goal, Churchill’s third, in similar fashion, except moving to his left and using a left-handed shot. Leonard also had two unassisted goals in the third quarter.
Moshyedi’s fourth-quarter goal was the Bulldogs’ only score of the quarter.
“We just didn’t play very good defense,” Wootton coach Colin Thomson said. “They have some guys who can shoot and we just didn’t play well on defense tonight. It hurt us. They capitalized on it. The guys fought back hard. We had opportunities but we kept hitting the goalie. We had a lot of shots and that can happen. It just wasn’t our night.”
Churchill fully expects to face Wootton again in the playoffs.
“We want to win by five next time,” Dubick said. “We’re not satisfied with one. We know we can play better. We’re going to keep working hard in practice ... but we know the next game is going to be just as tough as this one. We can’t let down. Wootton’s coming for us.”
Winston Churchill 12, Thomas S. Wootton 11
Wootton 3 2 2 4 — 11
Churchill 4 3 3 1 — 12
Wootton (7-2, 4-1): Goals — Joe Kelly 5, Jake Mitchell 3, Max Coonin, Myles Romm, Austin Schoenfeld. Assists — Joe Kelly 2, Austin Schoenfeld 2, Kevin Dwyer, Jake Mitchell.
Churchill (10-0, 5-0): Goals — Matt Leonard 6, Louis Dubick 3, Derek Altobello 1, Matt Moshyedi 1, Marshall Rhodes 1. Assists — Louis Dubick 3, Matt Moshyedi 2, Matt Leonard.