They had to wait a little bit longer than anticipated, but the Western Albemarle boys lacrosse team is heading to the state tournament.
Bus trouble for visiting Hanover pushed the opening faceoff of the Region 3C semifinal clash back over an hour, but the Warriors weren’t affected.
Sam Stalfort led the way with four goals on the evening and Western got two each from Edgar Batcheller, Jack Weyher, Austin Payne and Andrew Krese to defeat the Hawks 15-5 and keep their season going.
“We asked our guys tonight to just come out and play smart lacrosse,” Western coach Alex Whitten said. “Hats to the ball, move your feet on offense, and we knew that we had the ability to come out and beat them in transition.”
Western jumped out to a 4-0 lead as Batcheller got both his goals in the first four minutes, bookending tallies by Stalfort and Sam Herndon. Hanover got on the board courtesy of Keenan Smither, who led the Hawks with a pair of goals, at the 5:58 mark of the first, but Weyher took a long pass from Jake Wilson and answered.
The Warriors overcame a sluggish performance in the circle, with Hanover holding a 17-7 advantage on faceoffs.
“Our transition game has been really effective lately,” Whitten said. “Hanover’s faceoff guy is really good, so we made an adjustment midway through the first where we pulled a middie and launched a defenseman. Our faceoff guys–it’s their first year playing.”
Weyher later got his second as part of a late first-quarter flurry by the Warriors following a goal by Hanover’s William Fahed, with Stalfort and Jack Reichert adding goals for Western for an 8-2 lead after one.
Defense took over for WAHS from there — they held Hanover scoreless in the second quarter, then Payne got into the act, bagging two goals in the period followed by Stalfort’s third for an 11-2 advantage at the break.
The solid performance extended to the cage — Will Stalfort, Sam’s twin brother, had nine stops for WAHS.
“We rode really well and we cleared really well,” Sam Stalfort said. “Will is really good at clearing, and Cam Green and Alex Williamson also did a really good job.”
Stalfort opened the scoring in the second half less than a minute in with his final tally, while Krese notched one in each of the third and fourth quarters. Finn Kattman also scored late for the Warriors.
Smither got his second for Hanover with 7:58 to play in the game, while Ben Chadwick and Draven Reed added second-half goals for the Hawks.
The Warriors will travel to Midlothian on Tuesday evening for the regional crown. Both teams are assured of a spot in the state tournament.
“They’ve got a great coaching staff — Greg Barnhardt’s a great guy and he’s gonna have his team ready to go,” Whitten said. “But it’s about us, not who we play. If we play efficiently and effectively we should be all right.”