KENNESAW, Ga. — Perhaps the most appealing aspect of sports in the unbelievable highs of joy and adrenaline that competition provides. Of course, moments of elation are interspersed with crushing lows and sheer emotional devastation.
In a span of just a few minutes, Lambert experienced many psychological extremes in their matchup with Walton for the Class 6A-7A boys lacrosse state title May 18 at Kennesaw State University.
And for the Longhorns, the day ended in heartbreak.
Lambert erased a two-goal deficit in the final minute of regulation, but Walton denied Lambert its second straight title by scoring just 18 seconds into the sudden death overtime period.
Time was running out for the Longhorns in the fourth quarter after a Walton save and three Lambert shots sent wide.
Lambert finally broke through after the Raiders went down a man, and Benny O’Rourk scored with 51 seconds left on an assist from Gerard Kane.
With fans from both squads holding their collective breath, Walton won the faceoff, but Lambert defenders swarmed and forced a turnover.
With just 15 seconds left, O’Rourk put a hard shot on net, but Walton’s goalie, who had been tough to beat all game, came away with his fourth save of the period.
The Longhorns retained possession, and O’Rourk was quickly back on the ball. After scanning the attack area, O’Rourk connected with Kane on a behind-the-back pass. Kane then swiftly fired a shot into the back of the net with just 5.9 seconds left to send the Lambert faithful into a frenzy.
Suddenly riding an enormous high, Lambert took its momentum into the overtime period. After a long scrum for the faceoff, the ball rolled along the midfield line and the Raiders took possession.
Walton moved the ball back toward their defensive area, but a quick turnaround pass sprung Walton attacker Tate Harran in a wide area near midfield.
Harran drove to the goal, made a short side step and delivered a hard shot into the back of the net to land a devastating blow to the Longhorns and secure Walton its first state title since 2011.
The loss denied Lambert it’s fifth state title in program history.
Lambert jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first quarter with goals from Gerard Kane and Quinn O’Donnell, and two strong saves from goalie Brendan Wehman.
O’Rourk scored his second goal of the game with 11 seconds left in the first half to give the Longhorns a 4-3 lead at the break.
Despite the go-ahead goal just before the half, Walton carried all the momentum into the third quarter.
The Raiders scored three unanswered goals in the period and extended the margin to 7-4 with a goal early in the fourth.
Kane’s goal into the upper right corner with six minutes left in regulation set up the Longhorns’ eventual comeback bid.
Lambert’s loss was just its second on the season (20-2).