Monticello’s boys lacrosse team appeared to be in complete control after slowly building out a four-goal lead in the first half against Charlottesville in the Class 4, Region A quarterfinals.
But with a roster that leans heavily on young players, closing out a win is never as simple as it seems. With a combination of a renewed defensive effort, a timely forced turnover by Trevor Bratton and a key goal from Ethan Young down the stretch, the Mustangs held off the Black Knights for an 11-9 win that puts them in the region semifinals.
“We’re leaning on a lot of 15 year olds to win games for us and they’re doing it,” said Monticello coach Tucker Tapscott. “We’ve told them, one more win and you’re in states and that’d be huge, it’d be the first time in Monticello history.”
The Mustangs took a 5-1 lead by midway through the second quarter, thanks in part to Bailey Hauser getting going early. He finished with three goals on the night. Goalie Nick Garrett also made seven of his 13 saves during the second quarter as Monticello took control.
“(That early run) gave us a lot of energy and it kind of took them down a notch,” Hauser said.
By the end of the third, the Mustangs were up 9-5 when Jasper Crum and Brenden Riley, who had four goals for the Black Knights went back-to-back to close the Monticello advantage to just 9-7. Shortly thereafter though, Ethan Young stopped the bleeding with a huge goal that put Monticello up 10-7 and held up as the gamewinner.
Defense sealed that win though as Bratton, who also notched a hat trick, made a big stop on a ride that allowed the Mustangs to call a timeout.
“I was on the pole that was on the sideline and I turned around and looked and their goalie was running with him, I raised my stick up, he tried to pass it and I smacked it out of the air,” Bratton said.
He corralled the ball, Monticello quickly called a timeout and got a possession out of it that allowed them to milk some clock. The Mustangs then threw Bratton, an attackman, in on defense late to try and mark Riley — he was up for the task.
“I don’t really play much defense and I don’t know if I’m the best at it and I got winded quick but I just did the best I could,” Bratton said.
Hanley and Cooper Hauser each finished with two assists for the Mustangs while Buddy Wilson chipped in two goals and Kobi Copeland scored once. Cooper Hauser’s six ground balls led the Mustangs and Mitchell Plantz picked up four of his own.
“Our big theme for the week was we’re going out to hunt, that they’re the prey,” Tapscott said. “It took them awhile to adopt that but I feel like in spurts we show our capabilities. I really think they want to seize that opportunity, they’ve just got to keep that confidence.”
Now that prey becomes top-seeded Western Albemarle. Monticello took an Albemarle team that beat Western to overtime, so a win over the Warriors is far from out of the question despite their recent head-to-head history.
Charlottesville, meanwhile, ends an injury-plagued campaign with the narrow loss to the Mustangs. The Black Knights endured a series of concussions midway through the year and then lost star and offensive catalyst Sam Neale to a minor injury late in the season.
“There were a lot of junior varsity kids who got to see some time on varsity and they played their hearts out,” said Charlottesville coach Doug Gaspar. “We had a great senior class last year and the seniors this year stepped up but It’s about building back to that level.”
Jake Poe finished with two goals in addition to Riley’s five while Gage Winstead had a pair of assists.