“The thing we always talk about is nobody works harder than us and nobody has more fun than us,” Buczek said. “The winning will take care of itself. I think we’ve been able to do that for the most part.”
That’s an understatement. The Lions (13-5) won seven state championships last decade, including back-to-back titles as recently as 2008 and 2009, were runners-up in 2010 and reached the semifinals last year while winning yet another Area 1-AAAA-A championship.
They’re a No. 1 seed again heading into the Class AAAA-A playoffs this year, hosting Greenbrier today at 6 p.m. in the first round, after sweeping through Area 1 with a 9-0 record, polishing things off with an 11-6 win over runner-up McIntosh April 27.
Even after losing defensive standout and longstick midfielder Jordan Cunningham, ranked No. 1 by ESPNHS at his position in the nation, to a torn ACL in February, the Lions are still holding things down defensively, surrendering less than seven goals per game through the season’s first 17 matches.
Goalie Ben Flood and defender Thomas Padgett have led a team effort to overcome the loss of Cunningham, who will play college lacrosse at the University of Denver.
“You never want to see anybody get hurt, but Jordan’s done phenomenally,” Buczek said. “He’s been very helpful to the younger guys, and the guys have really rallied around him. We usually average about six goals allowed per game and that’s about where we are anyway.”
Offensively, the Lions are led by Cory Palmer (48 goals, 12 assists), Kyle Cunningham (30 goals, 17 assists) and Tyler Cunningham (19 goals, 24 assists).
Besides area play, Lovett enjoyed knocking off local rival and fellow defending semifinalist Westminster 7-5, while also scheduling and falling to Calvert Hall (N.C.), then rated the No. 1 team in the nation by Under Armour/Inside Lacrosse Power Rankings, and St. Anne’s Belfield (Va.), one of the top teams in Virginia.
Wins and losses outside of area play don’t make a difference once the postseason rolls around, but being battle-tested does, in Lovett’s experience.
“We played every good team we possibly could,” Buczek said. “I think that makes it fun for the guys. No one gets a whole lot out of 17-2 scores. We could schedule ourselves to be undefeated, but it wouldn’t be really fun and it wouldn’t be really valid.”