NORTH POTOMAC – As the end of the high school lacrosse season looms closer, earning results against good teams gets harder.
However, for the Wootton High School boys lacrosse team, Senior Night proved to be its best night.
The Patriots hosted the 8-3 Whitman in what looked to be a competitive affair on paper. Instead, Wootton took care of business for the 13-4 victory on April 25.
After two consecutive losses, Wootton Head Coach Ralph Bernardo described the home victory over the Vikings as the team’s best game of the year so far.
“It’s just a great display of emotion,” said Bernardo. “As a great culmination of four years, Senior Night is always an exciting night. They’re a great group of kids, a great bunch of leaders. Just doing what they do best.”
Wootton (6-3) scored the first and only goal of the first quarter when Patriots junior midfielder Evan McLaughlin fired a shot into the net. Early in the second quarter, senior midfielder Alec Yassin held the ball in his stick, ran around for a bit, then fired away for the goal to extend Wootton’s lead to 2-0.
Then, McLaughlin moved closer toward the net and put the ball in for his second tally of the evening to improve the shutout to 3-0 at halftime.
“I’m feeling really good about this win,” said Yassin. “It’s a big win for us. Big momentum swing, especially with the playoffs coming up.”
The first half featured a ton of shots from each team. However, most of them either resulted in a save or went wide.
One player who turned out to be the true MVP was Patriots senior attackman Hunter Band; he scored three goals, resulting in a hat trick in the second half.
“We haven’t played with this much energy in a really long time,” said Band. “It’s nice to get the boys back growing. Feels good.”
On his first goal, Band was standing in front of the cage for an open shot when he caught a long pass from McLaughlin. On the second, he caught another long pass, ran toward the net and launched a direct shot towards the goal. On the third, he ripped a quick opportunity into the net.
“I’ll be honest, I expect that from him,” Bernardo said. “He’s an absolute stud. He’s probably one of our best attackmen. I wish he could do that every night, but that doesn’t work out every time.”
It was a rough start for Band, however, because seconds into the game, he got knocked down hard by a Vikings defender while attempting a shot. The senior did not suffer a major injury and went on to shine in the third quarter with his goal-scoring performance.
“I just got the wind knocked out of me,” said Band. “So I just needed a second to breathe, and I was good to go.”
Also in the third, Yassin ran past a defender and put the ball in the back of the net for his second goal, while senior attackman Caleb Metz scored later in the quarter.
“It’s an awesome feeling to get this big win,” said Yassin. “A bunch of these guys are my best friends, so it’s really fun to get this win on Senior Night against a very good Whitman team.”
In the fourth, Metz added his second tally of the game falling to the ground on the shot, while four other Patriots also found the net.
While he surrendered four goals, Patriots senior goalie Seamus Graham had an incredible evening, as he notched a ton of saves in the net.
“He’s just a stud,” said Bernardo, applauding his performance. “…I mean, he keeps us in games. He’s just an animal.”
In a losing effort, Vikings junior defenseman Harrison Sikes scored the team’s first goal, while senior attackman Max Fletcher put up a hat trick of his own, as he scored all three of his goals in the second half.
“He’s our senior captain,” Whitman Head Coach Tommy Rothert said about Fletcher. “He played well. He played OK.”
Rothert was also very respectful of his opponents. “Wootton, hats off to them,” said Rothert. “They came out and played well tonight.”