BETHESDA—Considered this season the best team in the nation for boys varsity high school lacrosse, the Landon Bears (21-0) completed an undefeated season and IAC Championship, soundly defeating the Bullis Bulldogs (18-3), 18-7 at Landon High School on a rainy Friday afternoon.
The game could not have started off worse for the Bears. The Bulldogs scored at the 9:34 and 7:34 marks to take a 2-0 lead. This would be the high point for the Bulldogs.
Over the next 12 minutes, the Bears would score nine unanswered goals, never looking back. Complete domination was the name of the game for the Bears.
Bulldogs head coach Jeff Bellistri said, “First three or four minutes went Bullis’ way. That’s about it. Then Landon played to a level we couldn’t match…”
The unequivocal stars of the game and the season for the Bears were senior attacker Nate Buller (5 goals) and senior midfielder Justin Shockey (3 goals), both Naval Academy commits.
Bears head coach Rob Bordley said, “I was nervous at the beginning. Then Shockey came on…Our seniors, Nate played the way he played for his four years with us.”
Two of the brightest lacrosse prospects in the area, Buller’s ability to shoot and score has been unmatched on this level. Shockey in particular has controlled the dot, winning most faceoffs and keeping control for the Bears’ offense.
A key scoring highlight for the Bears came when they scored back-to-back-to-back goals within a minute to break open the game, 6-2.
The first goal of this highlight was junior midfielder Zach Johnson, who gave the Bears a 4-2 lead.
The second goal was a spectacular play by Shockey. Shockey won the faceoff and blazed downfield wasting no time scoring just six seconds after the Johnson tally.
The third goal was an unassisted performance by Buller, showing the sheer force of the Bears.
Buller said, ““It feels great to come out here today and execute the coach’s game plan. I’m glad everything worked out.”
Shockey said of the win, “We came out. We were super-pumped up and it just showed on the field.”
For Bullis, senior attacker Alex Trippi (1 goal), a UNC commit and regarded a star, sophomore attacker Robert Schain (3 goals) and sophomore midfielder Bryson Shaw (1 goal) supplied most of the Bulldogs offense.
The fourth quarter was played with the outcome well in hand, as the Landon crowd started chants of “Undefeated.” Fans celebrated in the rain, many placing this Bears team in the pantheon of other great Landon teams.
Bellistri knows this Landon team was on a level bar none, explaining, “You know, we don’t look at it where they are nationally. They’re our neighbor. We’re in Potomac. They’re in Bethesda. Our kids know they’re kids. They play against each other during the summer. Play against each other, club ball. We were just hoping we could put together a better effort but it really wasn’t that we played that poorly…Landon just played a great game today. They’re a great champion.”
With Bellistri adding, “I’ve been coaching in this area since 1995. Actually in 1995 I was one of their JV Assistant Coaches. So, they are a great champion. It’s difficult to compare them to Landon teams past…That team was a great team. And the way they played today, I don’t think there was a team in the country that could have passed what they did today.”
Landon alum and fan Sam Lynch said,” Feels pretty good. I graduated in 2014, so, it good to see them still chugging away.”
With current Landon student P.J. Fitzgerald saying,” It’s definitely up there with some of them. This brings back memories of guys like when we were young watching Matt Ward, of the early 2000s. It’s definitely up there with some of the great Landon teams.”