Bull­dogs cap­ture first crown

STONE BRIDGE 10, ATLEE 9

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY MARK GIANNOTTO mark.giannotto@wash­post.com

When planted into the turf at Lake Brad­dock on Satur­day night, the long-pole lacrosse stick used by Stone Bridge’s Matt Nabors ac­tu­ally inched over his 5-foot-8 frame. He is the rare long­stick mid­fielder who also dou­bles as one of his team’s small­est play­ers.

But what­ever he lacks in reach didn’t mat­ter when Nabors en­sured his high school ca­reer ended on a his­toric note. The se­nior forced a turnover with un­der 30 sec­onds re­main­ing to de­liver Stone Bridge a dra­matic 10-9 victory over Atlee to se­cure the school’s first Vir­ginia 5A state cham­pi­onship in boys’ lacrosse.

A few sec­onds be­fore his clutch take­away, Nabors com­mit­ted one of his few mis­takes when he stepped out of the of­fen­sive zone with the Bull­dogs try­ing to ice away the game. But guard­ing Atlee star Davis Hatch, Nabors stuck his stick into Hatch’s chest, popped the ball loose and watched his team­mates come up with the most im­por­tant ground­ball of the year.

It was Nabors who also stopped Atlee’s fu­ri­ous sec­ond­half rally, scor­ing his lone goal of the game just 10 sec­onds af­ter the Raiders had cut Stone Bridge’s lead to 8-7 to start the fourth quar­ter. Two min­utes later, ju­nior Cade Gro­ton found class­mate Colin Jachi­mowski in tran­si­tion for what turned into the game-win­ning goal.

Hatch (three goals) scored with less than six min­utes left in reg­u­la­tion, but Stone Bridge goalie Lo­gan Broad­bent, a con­verted de­fense­man, stood tall when Atlee pep­pered him with shots in the wan­ing mo­ments of the con­test.

“It was noth­ing less than an emo­tional roller coaster,” Nabors said. “They come roar­ing back like that and you’re like, ‘Oh no.’ That starts to creep into the back of your mind, but you can’t lose faith.”

Stone Bridge came out shaky, but Gro­ton proved a steady­ing force by scor­ing all four of his goals in the open­ing 24 min­utes. The Bull­dogs built a 7-3 half­time lead by tal­ly­ing five goals in a row to close the first half.

But Atlee kept com­ing and set the stage for Nabors’s fi­nal hero turn. Gro­ton noted if his team­mate “makes a mis­take, you know he’ll fix it by get­ting that ball back.” Which made Satur­day’s end­ing so per­fect.

“To go out like this,” Nabors said, “it’s a dream come true.”

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