Andrew Scanlon wasn’t sure he wanted to try out for Albemarle’s boys lacrosse’s varsity team as a freshman. He’d played a year of junior varsity as an eighth grader, but hadn’t made the call about another year of JV or shooting for varsity.
Then seniors Sam Mallow and Lorenz Brown stepped in to make sure he didn’t think twice, letting the ninth grader know that they thought he should be trying out for varsity and that he had the stuff to compete and contribute on that level.
“That was all the confidence I needed and it just kind of kept me going the entire way,” Scanlon said.
Scanlon has been essentially contributing ever since, notching a game-winner against Mills Godwin in his first start as a freshman. He has helped lead a multi-year resurgence of the Patriots’ program that led to a Region 5D title last year and a state tournament quarterfinal appearance that ended a five-year state tournament drought for the program. Along the way, Scanlon earned the Region 5D player of the year award, Class 5 All-State honors and All-American designation as a junior.
Scanlon has been something of a late-game wizard, notching overtime game-winners three times in his career starting with the Mills Godwin one.
“I’ve coached Andrew since middle school and he’s never been afraid of the big moment,” said Albemarle coach Dave King.
His most exciting may have come on senior night though in the Patriots’ second clash of the year with Western Albemarle. The boys lacrosse regular season series of the Western/Albemarle rivalry has a particular intensity because the two programs have mostly sat unchallenged outside of each other atop the public school heap locally — with brief rises from Monticello and Charlottesville — for the last decade or so. When Scanlon buried the overtime game-winner as a sophomore, it was huge for a group of seniors that had lost two straight games to the Warriors coming into their final shot at Western.
“I remember all the seniors just going crazy in the locker room afterwards,” Scanlon said. “That’s something they’ll remember for a very long time.”
His junior year he picked up another overtime game-winner over Patrick Henry in a key regular season win after some tough luck efforts against the other 5A Patriots from Roanoke. It was a crucial win in last year’s season where the Patriots got a major boost from players like senior captain Cooper Cramer and defender Tim Lindenbaum, one of Scanlon’s best friends and a big reason Scanlon considered going to Virginia Military Institute before choosing to play lacrosse at Lynchburg next year. Scanlon pointed to that group’s leadership as a big reason for the Patriots getting back into the state tournament.
“Last year’s senior class really wanted to win and it was huge knowing that everyone had each other’s backs,” Scanlon said. “That was the biggest part of it.”
Despite three pretty successful seasons, it wasn’t always easy for Scanlon. He was thrown into the fire as a starting attackman as a freshman and like most ninth graders, there were some adjustments. He started off clicking well with the offense, but then there was what Scanlon describes as a slump while King at the time called it a lull. But he snapped out of it in late May by setting the table for his teammates, dishing out three assists in a group quarterfinal playoff win against Massaponax.
“I was used to having the ball all the time, so that was a huge change,” Scanlon said. “Then I came back and it has just been fun. I think the thing I want my legacy to be is don’t give up.”
There can be some significant lessons in those moments and clearly Scanlon learned that one — to keep plugging away, to keep moving forward. Scanlon also started to figure out how to better help Albemarle’s offense without forcing it and taking too much on his shoulders. That helped him learn how to make his teammates around him better while trusting them more, and started the development of what turned into an electric, equal opportunity attack unit his junior season when then freshman Timmy Myers and senior Alec Kelly teamed up with Scanlon. All three had 24 or more goals and were within one assist of each other at 19, 18 and 17 each. Scanlon finished with 39 goals and 17 assists that season.
“Last year we had three really good attackmen — it was hard to guard all three of us,” Scanlon said. “That whole group, the first middie line, the second middie line, we were all working constantly to get better. We had our set offense and then we’d create our own things that the coaches didn’t even know about off the offense.”
Scanlon will certainly be remembered in part for his offense prowess. He’s joined the elite ranks of other offensive standouts like Hunter Brown and Matt Crist from Albemarle in King’s Albemarle tenure, players who went on to be All-Americans for Hampden Sydney and Christopher Newport respectively in college. But he’s also grown into a complete lacrosse player, which is part of why he’s getting the chance to play at Lynchburg next season.
“During the recruiting process a coach reached out after seeing Andrew playing in the summer,” King said. “What sold him the most on Andrew was watching him track down a clearing middie from behind at the end of the day in a summer league game, that kind of effort epitomizes Andrew and what he’s done at Albemarle. “
Lacrosse lends itself to some serious improvisation and creativity, and Scanlon seems to thrive in those moments when the play breaks down and it’s up to the players on the field to scramble and figure something out. It’s no coincidence that his favorite sport as a spectator is ice hockey — he’s a huge Washington Capitals fan — because there’s a similarly improvisational piece to both games, particularly in unsettled situations.
That’s what helped him and the Patriots thrive last year and show marked improvement, including his seven-goal explosion against those archrival Warriors in his final clash with Western, his hat trick in the region semifinals to help Albemarle secure a state tournament berth and his five goals and two assists against Mountain View to clinch the region title. Albemarle ran into current Richmond standout Dalton Young and John Champe in the state quarterfinals and ended that campaign, but it became, in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic a pretty special run to end Scanlon’s high school career.
While he heads to Lynchburg and will continue his career, it’s clear the huge impact Albemarle’s program has had on Scanlon.
“It’s really about the relationships that were created with all of the players and my teammates,” Scanlon said. “All my coaches and teammates have really helped me not just on the lacrosse field, but also to be a better person.”
That’s the kind of growth and experience that lasts far beyond a season, far beyond high school. It’s the kind of experience that lasts a lifetime.
— scrimmageplay (@scrimmageplay) May 2, 2018