Shifting Sam Neale behind the cage on attack has paid some big dividends of late for the Charlottesville boys lacrosse team on offense.
It certainly did Thursday night in the Charlottesville Conference semifinals.
The Black Knights’ offense caught fire and Charlottesville rolled past Monticello 21-3 to earn a spot in the Region 4A South tournament and a shot at the conference title next week against Western Albemarle.
Neale rang up five goals and six assists in the win as Charlottesville built a huge 17-1 halftime lead. Hunter Randle also got going in a big way with four goals while Gage Winstead and Ashton Wenzel each notched hat tricks. Wenzel also chipped in two assists. Aidan Hockett had a goal and an assist while four other players — Owen Gilmore, Sadarius Folley, Thomas Stadler and Ephraim Antwi — scored one goal each. Stadler also had an assist.
That explosive offensive effort came in part because of a ton of turnovers created by the defense as Charlottesville actually lost the faceoff battle 25-11. When the Black Knights got their chances they took advantage, putting 32 of 37 shots on goal while putting 21 of those 37 shots in the back of the net.
Zach Russell had six saves for the Black Knights, Eli Evans had one stop for CHS during his time in the cage.
Trevor Bratton scored two of Monticello’s goals while Mitchell Plantz scored the other.
The Black Knights will face Western at 7:15 p.m. Monday in the conference title game.