WHS boys' lacrosse team beats St. Stephens
by Steve Behr Sports Editor
By literally push or shove, Watauga's boys' lacrosse team managed to beat St. Stephens at Leigh Cooper Wallace Field Tuesday.
The Pioneers used a 4-0 run in the second half and claimed an 11-6 victory over St. Stephens in a physical game that had many players require treatment from the Watauga training staff. Several fouls were called, and although the game did not get chippy among the players, there were plenty of sticks being used, legally, in an attempt to slow opponents down on drives to the goal.
"It was very physical, but it's part of what appealed to me when I took the (coaching) job, because I like physical sports" Watauga coach Brett Greene said. "But it was a little over the top. Both teams has spring break last week, so both teams didn't have a week of practice. When you get that, you throw them out on the field like this, you get a little roughness and a little bit of undisciplined (play). But we persevered through it and had a few penalties, which we don't like to have, but that's part of it."
Watauga (4-6, 4-2 Conference 13) needs to win its final two games against Freedom to be assured a state playoff berth. The Pioneers put themselves in a position to do that by scoring four straight goals to take a 10-4 lead that St. Stephens would not come close to overtaking.
All who were injured at the game were able to walk off the field under their own power. The scariest injury happened to Watauga's Zach Williams, who was hit with a stick in the neck and fell to the turf with 8:05 left in the third. After being attended to by trainers and coaches, Williams was able to not only walk off the field, but eventually return to the game.
In fact, Williams scored a fourth quarter goal that gave the Pioneers a 10-4 lead, which capped Watauga's 4-0 second half run.
Williams finished the game with four goals, one goal more than Canyon Mueller's three goals. Mueller also dished out two assists.
Ben Henson added two goals, while Silas Keeter and Dylan Arbogast each scored one goal. Keeter and Henson also dished out assists.
Williams and Henson made sure the Pioneers never trailed by scoring the first two goals of the game. After a St. Stephens goal, Mueller scored with 4:45 left in the first quarter to put the Pioneers in front 3-1.
Leading 5-3 with 29 seconds left in the first half, Watauga was whistled for two penalties, which sent both players off the field. Despite being two players down, St. Stephens could not convert its fortune into a goal and trailed 5-3 at halftime.
The Indians' Ben Hayes scored the first goal of the second half to close Watauga's lead to 5-4, but goals by Arbogast, Keeter, Mueller and Williams put the Pioneers in front 10-4 with 9:55 left in the game.
Greene said he emphasized the need for the Pioneers to come out strong at the start of the second half. He also praised goalkeeper Andrew Stratton for keeping the St. Stephens offense off the scoreboard during the run.
"We haven't played well coming out of the half all year," Greene said. "I talked to them at halftime about starting strong and finishing strong and we really came out firing and winning the face-offs. I don't know what the shots comparison was, but we had a ton more shots and Stratton did a great job of blocking anything that they shot, really."
Hayes finished with three goals for St. Stephens.