It wasn’t for lack of trying. Western Albemarle’s senior defender Matthew Mullin literally ran through his shoe. Mullin exited the game when his foot pushed through the side of his left cleat with under two minutes to play.
But the Western boys lacrosse team couldn’t find an answer for unbeaten Dominion High in the Group 4A state title game Saturday at Liberty University, falling 17-4. It was the Warriors’ second-straight loss in the championship game, two years of heartbreak for a senior core that largely powered both runs.
“This is why we play really, it’s all about the competition and I love coming out here with my brothers,” Mullin said. “Even though we lost, if I knew the same outcome before, I would do it with the same guys, I love my brothers so much.”
Dominion led 6-3 at the break but exploded in the second half, reeling off five straight goals in the third quarter and holding Western to just a single goal after the break.
“I think the seniors took leadership and led us to the final,” said Dominion’s Kyle Kivinski who scored four goals and notched three assists for the Titans. “We were switching up shots and pelting (Sours). In the first half they weren’t falling, but we kept shooting and stuck to the fundamentals. It worked out.”
Despite the 17 goals by Dominion that included five by Bryce Hartzel and four goals and three assists by Chris Low, Western keeper Jackson Sours ended his career with a 17-save performance. The Warriors simply couldn’t stop the bleeding after the break as things came unraveled on the offensive end.
“They threw some wrinkles at us athletically that we couldn’t handle,” said Western coach Alex Whitten. “Their double and then triple on the backside we just didn’t manage it well.”
It was just more than the Warriors could handle no matter how well Western had been playing coming into the championship game with a blowout win over Freedom and a region championship game win over Hanover before that in a barnburner. Dominion was extremely tough.
“They were good, flat out, no other way to put it,” Whitten said. “They were solid across the board.”
Jack Loffredo, Oliver Herndon, James Buetow and Luke Reilly each scored once for the Warriors.
The loss ends the careers of several key Western multi-sport athletes, like Herndon and Mullin as well as lacrosse standouts like Sours, Reilly and Carter Elliot who have been fixtures in the Warriors’ lineup the last few years.
“It’s just an awesome group of kids. We preach two things, be a great kid and work as hard as you can, and it’s just a really solid group of guys,” Whitten said. “They were here as freshman when I came to the program, so there’s a special sentiment for those guys.”
There was a special sentiment for many of the Warriors themselves too.
“It’s hard to close this chapter in my life, I don’t think it’s really hit me that I’ll never play a competitive sport again,” Mullin said. “But it’s great to do it with these guys.”