Thomas S. Wootton High School boys' lacrosse goalkeeper Patrick Cornelius was watching from the sidelines last spring when his team was defeated by Winston Churchill in the playoffs for the second consecutive year.
As a backup, there was nothing he could do.
But Cornelius would get his chance starting in net in this season's 4A/3A West Region finals rematch, and the junior capitalized by recording 22 saves in the Patriots' 14-12 victory over the Bulldogs (13-4) Wednesday in Rockville.
“It was upsetting and I couldn't do anything about it last year,” Cornelius said. “This year I just made the saves.”
Wootton (17-0), the regional champions from 2006 to 2011, is set to take on South River in the state semifinals.
“We came out today and we knew we had to ball and we played as a family,” senior defenseman Jake Koplan said. “We came out, we played as a team, and we got the win.”
Cornelius recorded 10 second-half saves and Wootton needed every last one of them to knock off the two-time defending regional champions. The two-goal victory was the Patriots' closest one of the year.
“He knows the game like the back of his hand,” Koplan said. “He knows what he's doing, he's a leader on the field, and we trust him.”
Cornelius anchored a defense that allowed only 4.4 goals per game, saving 73 percent of the 160 shots sent his way.
“He's part of why we are where we are,” Wootton coach Colin Thomson said. “It takes seven guys on defense. He's one guy, and he might be the first guy.”
Austin Schoenfeld (4 goals) and Jake Mitchell (3) were the scoring leaders for the Patriots, who never trailed in the victory.
“Offensively, we killed it,” Cornelius said. “Everyone is getting the ball. Defensively, we're playing great team defense.”
Churchill's Louis Dubick scored a game-high six goals and kept the Bulldogs in the game, but the Patriots' held off the late comeback bid.
“We were going to shut [Dubick] down,” Cornelius said. “He got his goals, he got his assists, but we won.”
Wootton, which has an average victory margin of 12.2, defeated Churchill 16-8 in the regular season. Bulldogs senior Steven Stillwell kept his team within reach by dominating the faceoffs — Churchill won 16 of 24.
“They played us hard,” Thomson said. “.... It's always tough one [against Churchill].”
Wootton's next opponent, South River (15-2), defeated Leonardtown 16-0 to win the 4A/3A East Region.
“We got to play as a team. That's basically it. When we play as a team, we can beat anybody,” Cornelius said.
Wootton 14, Churchill 12
Churchill 3 2 3 4 — 12
Wootton 5 3 2 4 — 14
Churchill (13-4): Goals — Louis Dubick 6, Derek Altobello 2, Nick Muscarella 2, Daniel DiBono, Matt Moshyedi.
Wootton (17-0): Goals — Austin Schoenfeld 4, Jake Mitchell 3, Mike Kim 2, Jake Dunlop 1, Justin O'Daniel 1, Myles Romm 1, Matt Saltzman 1, David Siegel 1.