Bulldogs capture first crown
STONE BRIDGE 10, ATLEE 9
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.”