Last month, members of the Western Albemarle boys lacrosse team were left shaking their heads following an emotional 14-6 loss at Albemarle.
Stuart Widener and the Warriors didn’t forget the loss and it showed Wednesday night as Western Albemarle edged Albemarle 9-8 in the rematch in Crozet.
Widener scored two goals and assisted on two others as the Warriors clinched the Jefferson District title.
“It’s amazing,” Widener said. “It’s my senior year and it’s something I’ve always wanted and something I’ve always strived to be. I’m just really happy about it.”
Offense was hard to come by early in the contest as each team took turns imposing their will on the game in a physical first 12 minutes.
Kevin Myers finally broke through with 3:47 left on a sidewinding shot from the right win to give Albemarle (7-2) a 1-0 lead after one quarter of play.
Widener said his team didn’t panic with the early deficit and after a great pep talk from Coach Mario Washington, Westen Albemarle flipped the momentum with a strong second quarter.
“It was a really gritty game,” Widener said. “We came out hot and they came out pretty hot too and we never lost hope. We played Warrior ball, moved the ball around all the time and kept the ball hot and didn’t lose energy throughout the game.”
Following a scrum from the side of the net, Cole Baglio found some space at the top of the formation and ripped a shot past the Albemarle keeper to tie the game at 1-1.
The Warriors took the lead a few minutes later on a man advantage opportunity as Jacob Fontaine found Quinn Reilly in front and the freshman attackman buried a chance over the keeper for a 2-1 lead with 6:32 left in the half.
That’s when Widener took over.
The senior made a great run from the right side and ripped a shot from distance into the goal for a 3-1 lead with 3:45 left.
Albemarle snapped the three-goal run with two minutes left in the half. Nolan Pitsenberger scooped up a ground ball, which led to fast break on the other end. The senior found Owen Tighe, who found the back of the net to make it a 3-2 game.
Western Albemarle (7-1) regained momentum just before halftime as Reilly scored on a nice move from behind the cage on a great pass from William Ferguson to take a 4-2 lead into halftime.
The third quarter was more of the same as Widener scored on the first shot of the second half to give Western a 5-2 lead.
The Patriots countered when Ryan Katstra found Brock Stroud, who sent a rocket into the cage to trim the lead to 5-3.
Widener then found Austin Moore behind the cage and the senior attack scored on a wraparound opportunity to make it a 6-3 game with 9:28 left in the quarter.
After Myers’ second goal of the game closed the gap to 6-4, Widener found Reilly on the right side for his third goal of the contest to make it a 7-4 game. Albemarle responded with a goal in the final seven seconds of the quarter from Tighe to trim the lead to 7-5.
Reilly opened the fourth with a goal from an impossible angle with 9:10 left to stretch the lead back to three goals. Myers then found Jacob King in front of the goal for a nifty goal to pull the Patriots within 8-6 with 5:44 left.
Albemarle continued to build momentum as defender Max Wooten pushed forward and bounced one past the keeper to make it a one-goal game, 8-7 with 4:43 left.
On the ensuing faceoff, Tyler Spano gained possession for Western Albemarle and raced straight to goal and scored to reinstate the two-goal lead less than 10 seconds later.
With under two minutes left, Albemarle’s offense made one final push as Stroud scored his second goal of the game with 1:33 left to close the gap to 9-8.
The Patriots had a chance to tie the game with 16 seconds left, but Grant Goodall made a great stick check to force a turnover and the Warriors ran out the remaining time to secure the win.
“Goodall is a specimen,” Widener said. “He obviously does that to me in practice a few times and he showed that he could do it in a real game. It was really awesome to see that and definitely helped clinch the game for us.”
Western Albemarle will host the first round of the Region 4B tournament next Tuesday as part of a doubleheader with the girls team. Game time is slated for 7:30 p.m.