By Christopher Lawlor
WASHINGTON – It was a relatively quiet first half for Robert Schain. He only had an assist for a point and his team, Bullis School (Potomac Md.), trailed by a goal.
In the regular season and league playoffs, he accrued 109 points on 56 goals and 53 assists. Something needed to change in hurry.
It was Schain who got on track with two goals as Bullis pulled off a mild shocker dethroning The Hill Academy (Vaughn, Ontario), 11-10, Monday at the third annual GEICO High School Lacrosse Nationals semifinals at Catholic University’s Carlini Field.
After playing the initial GEICO Lacrosse Nationals at Cardinal Stadium, the action shifted at the newly renovated and dedicated multi-use venue with FieldTurf, a synthetic surface.
There will be a new champion in the tournament as Hill, No. 5 in the latest Inside Lacrosse Top 25 High School Power Rankings, lost for the second straight game to wind up 12-3 overall.
The Bulldogs (21-3) advanced to Tuesday’s championship tilt against No. 3 Salisbury (Conn.) School or No. 13 St. Sebastian’s School (Needham, Mass.) at 7 p.m. EDT on ESPNU.
“We’ve only trailed for a total of like three minutes this season before this game,” Schain said of his team that fell behind for more than two quarters on Monday. “It was a frustrating first hand then we trailed 8-4 in the third quarter. During a timeout one of my teammates [Isaac Aronson] said, ‘it’s time for you to take over.’’’
As it turns out, Schain uncorked a spin-o-rama shot from near the crease that started the Bulldogs on a 5-0 run that resulted in a 9-8 lead early in the fourth. Hill battled until the end and pulled back goals to make it 10-9 and 11-10 but Bullis gained a berth in the final.
Schain and Bryson Shaw each had a three-point on two goals and a helper performance as nine Bullis players entered the score sheet. Gus Weiner added two goals for the Bulldogs and goalie jack Fracyon stood tall in the crease with 11 saves.
Oddly it was the Canadians who controlled key numbers such as winning 18 of 25 draws and 30-23 in ground balls but heart and team chemistry eventually won it.
“We haven’t played in over two weeks and last week our seniors were doing projects for Habitat for Humanity,” Bullis head coach Jeff Bellistri said. “We have a positive locker room and our players don’t down on one another. That’s what is great about them.
“In the first half we allowed Hill to dictate the pace and we had bad shots and made poor decisions. In the second half, we were able to get going,” the coach said.
Dyson Williams topped all scorers with five points on a hat trick and two assists and Adam Poitras added a hat trick and assists. Fogo James Turco was clutch, taking18 of 23 draws and scooping a game-high 10 ground balls.
It appeared Bullis was done in the third quarter; it trailed at halftime by a goal (5-4) and watched as the two-time defending champions from the Toronto area built an 8-4.
The Bulldogs chipped away, methodically forcing turnover and converting. During a span of 1-minute, 24-seconds of the fourth, the Maryland school tied and eventually took their first lead since the first quarter when Matt Kelly slipped past a defender on right side with a dodge and beat goalie John Wright with a high shot. Bullis led 9-8 with just over seven minutes remaining and had regained the momentum it established at the first draw.
In the third, the Pride gained more traction and time of possession. When Poitras converted a feed from Hogg it was 7-3 with 7:30 left over just over minute later he sank a flying shot to double the score, 8-4.
Schain showed why he was selected to the Under Armour All America Game next month in Baltimore. The Pennsylvania-bound attack used a spin move and over-the-shoulder flick off a hero play and it was suddenly 8-5.
“In the first half I could’ve had three goals and a couple more assists but my shots were a foot wide and we were trying get our rhythm back after being off for two weeks,” Schain said. “That fifth goal was important it got us going again and that led to five goals and a lead.
“Beating Hill Academy is huge for our program; we are playing for a championship,” he said. “Personally we lost to them when I was a freshman and a junior so now I can check off that box in beating a very good team.”
Hill carried an 8-6 lead into the fourth quarter after padding the edge in the first six minutes of the third, Bullis back within two goals when Shaw ripped an unstoppable drive from distance inside the final minute.
Williams notched his goal of the evening with 101 seconds to go, firing a low shot that eluded Fracyon’s stick and it was 5-4 for the Canadians at the break.
Bullis held a 17-13 shot-advantage in the opening half, but Hill was up 16-10 in ground balls and captured 8 of 11 faceoffs.
The game was tied twice in the second quarter. Spencer Hughes’s unassisted goal at 4:23 left tied it at 4 for the Bulldogs.
The month of May saw the teams take divergent paths to the GEICO Lacrosse Nationals. Hill was busy and Bullis did not play in 16 days before Monday’s semifinal.
Hill went 4-1 in the build-up to the tournament but fell in the National Prep Championship to top-ranked Culver (Ind.) Military Academy, 9-5, on May 19 in the final. It was the second loss to the Indiana school this season. Hill also lost to Culver, 16-8, in April. Culver participated in last year’s GEICO Lacrosse Nationals, losing in the semifinals.
As for Bullis, for the third time in four years, including the last two, the Bulldogs were crowned Interstate Athletic Conference champions. Bullis topped St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.), 13-9, on May 10 in the final.
That didn’t affect the Bulldogs in the first frame but Hill rallied for a 3-2 lead. The tiebreaker came off the stick of Williams with 18 seconds left in the quarter, allowing the Pride to erase a two-goal deficit.
The opening six-plus minutes featured patient passing and little offense to show. Finally Immanuel Brown and Connor Davis tallied 41 seconds apart and it was 2-0. Brown’s goal occurred at 5:31.
Michigan-commit Josh Zawada and Matt Wright opened his accounted their accounts to even the game at 2. Wright’s rocket came off an assist from Graydon Hogg at 3:44—only 15 seconds before Zawada. Hogg finished with three assists.
Bullis charged out of the gates as evidenced in pregame warm-ups, sprinting around the field with a player carrying an American flag. It was a portend of things to come on Memorial Day in the nation’s capital.