Fast Start: Early run helps power Blue Ridge lacrosse to VIC championship

Photo by Brian Mellott

Ty Ewen scored five goals with three assists and Blue Ridge put forth a masterful defensive performance, powering past visiting North Cross 15-5 in the VIC boys lacrosse conference championship.


The game was a rematch from Friday in Roanoke, where the Barons had eked out an 8-6 win.


North Cross dominated possession early, winning the game’s first four faceoffs, but Blue Ridge, as they have so often this season, still jumped out to a fast start. They goals from five players in the first 11 minutes for a 6-0 lead. North Cross’ Geist Pollock netted a goal just before the quarter ended to stop the bleeding and get the Raiders on the board.


“Last game we started out really slow, it definitely affected us being on a bus for three hours,” said Ewen, who shared VIC player of the year honors with Pollock. “It took us till the third quarter to get going.”


That experience provided a bit of a spark for the Barons this time around in that 6-0 run. The Raiders scored the next two, including one from Pollock’s brother Matthew, and thwarted a Blue Ridge extra-man opportunity to trim the deficit to 6-3 midway through the second.


Ewen, who had scored Blue Ridge’s last goal up until that point, woke up the Barons with a screamer that beat Raider goalie Piers McGinn with 6:35 before halftime to end the drought, and added another one with four seconds before the horn. Joey Szabo also netted his first goal of the game with two minutes to go, leading to a 9-3 Blue Ridge halftime advantage.


“Offensively we’ve been slowly getting better throughout the year,” Blue Ridge head coach Michael Herring said. “We have some guys who can really put the ball in the bucket. I was pleased we played better.”


The second half started similarly to how the first ended — with a Ewen goal, this one 17 seconds in. Brady Cole answered for the Raiders three minutes later, but that was the last time they would find the net in the period. Blue Ridge added one from Liam Moran and two in a row from Keegan Kozack for a nine-goal lead after three and making the fourth quarter largely academic.


“I suppose every team is a work in progress, but especially defensively we were a work in progress,” Herring said. “We got exposed by them a little bit Friday. We ended up losing almost all the faceoffs and were on defense the entire day. We hadn’t seen that since the middle of the season.”


Connor Modd registered 11 saves in the cage for Blue Ridge to offset 11 stops for the Raiders’ McGinn. Kozack, Szabo, Ballard Earley and Adam Thistlethwaite all had two goals each for the Barons, who will await their fate in the VISAA tournament. Shane Ford finished with a goal and two assists.


Gabe Zappia’s two goals led the way for North Cross, who fell to 12-3.