Run and Gun: Western’s offense explodes in state quarterfinal romp

Photo by Bart Isley

Everything was working for Western Albemarle’s boys lacrosse team Saturday night.


The offense was moving the ball well. The defense was forcing turnovers. The transition game was locked in too.


Western built a six-goal lead in the first quarter and never looked back, cruising 20-5 past Jefferson Forest in the Class 4A state quarterfinals. The win vaults Western into the state semifinals Tuesday where they’ll travel to E.C. Glass.


Sam Stalfort, Jack Reichert, Jack Weyher and Austin Payne did the heavy lifting for the Warriors’ offense, with Stalfort scoring four goals while also dishing out four assists while Reichert had a hat trick while taking just four shots in an efficient effort. Weyher finished with two goals and three assists on the night and Payne notched four goals of his own.


“We kind of just shared the ball, played fast and played our game and it went well,” Payne said. “We’ve gotten more excited and come out with more energy than we used to and it has really worked out for us.”


Sam Herndon had a goal and an assist on the night while Stuart Widener, Andrew Krese and Edgar Batcheller each had a goal.


The transition game was a big part of the Warriors’ effort. They were efficient in moving the ball up field with Jake Wilson and Jack Lesemann leading the charge, with Wilson notching an assist on a feed to Reichert in the second quarter.


“We push the field and it creates a lot of fastbreak goals,” Payne said.


Then, once the Warriors had the ball on offense, they took care of it, an improvement from earlier this season where turnovers have occasionally been Western’s downfall. Getting the ball moving in transition actually helps that too, preventing turnovers during clears.


“Sam Herndon came out like a man on fire tonight, he’s been coming on really well in the last few games,” said Western Albemarle coach Alex Whitten. “One of the things we’re trying to do is get guys to break out really quick upon the shot so if you’re on the backside of the play, just go. The key tonight was just very few unforced turnovers”


Will Stalfort finished with nine saves on the night in the cage.


Western fell 6-4 to E.C. Glass last year in the state quarterfinal round, so there’s a shot at vengeance and a chance to return to the state final for the first time since 2016. The state semifinal clash will start at 7 p.m.