The Smyrna High School boys lacrosse team lost 9-4 Tuesday night to No. 4 seed Tower Hill in the first round of the state tournament. The game marked the first tournament berth for the Eagles, who were the No. 13 seed.
Smyrna got off to a slow starts allowing four goals from the Hillers in the first six minutes of the game, before answering back with a goal of their own. Senior Tyler Matthews got things started for the Eagles scoring with 3:35 left in the first quarter, bringing the score to 4-1. Two more Tower Hill goals put Smyrna at a daunting disadvantage though as they faced a 6-1 deficit after just one quarter.
When the second quarter started, however, it was a whole other story as Smyrna swayed the momentum their way. Joseph Russillo, Luke Russillo and Darren Lawson each scored one goal to bring the score at halftime to 6-4.
Defense was the name of the game in third quarter as neither team was able to break through for a goal. It looked like the score was going to remain tight up until the end but a goal from Tower Hill's Andrew Pettit early in the fourth quarter put the Hillers at the 7-4 advantage. The Hillers would go on to score two more unanswered goals to end the game at 9-4 with Tower Hill advancing to the second round of the state tournament.
Smyrna coach Mike Judy said the Eagles spotted a really good team a couple goals to start the game but the players rallied and played their hearts out.
"The senior class lived up to the expectations," Judy said. "You know we talk about it all the time – heart, hustle, desire, toughness – and they proved that they are not going to back down from anybody in the state ever and I'm super proud of them for that."
Judy believes the players had a little "we're the new guys on the block" type attitude but once they woke up they played excellent lacrosse, especially when they blanked the Hillers for the second and third quarters.
Senior Jordan Kiger said the Eagles had some turnovers that the Hillers capitalized on, but Smyrna got the momentum back and just kept fighting for every ground ball.
"We left it all out on the field," Kiger said.
The team motto all year has been 'Together," Kiger said and the Eagles did just that.
"If you can believe, you can do anything. We just try our hardest every day at practice and just go out there and do as much as we possibly can to get better," Kiger said. "We were hoping for this at the beginning of the season. We came out and just gave everything we had."
Even with the loss, the Eagles are still proud of their accomplishments this year. In just their second varsity season, the team finished with their first 10-win season (10-5) and the tournament berth. Plus, coach Mike Judy was named the Henlopen Conference Boys Lacrosse Coach of the Year.
"This [the game] was a big moment in Smyrna history for lacrosse," said player Tyler Matthews. "I couldn't have asked for better teammates to play with and I know the guys that come up will keep it going.
Judy said this year's success couldn't have happened without the senior group of players leading the way and he pointed out the team's second-year success to the players after the loss to Tower Hill.
"What I just told these guys is they did something that nobody can ever take away from them and they built this program from the bottom up," Judy said. "Every team, every successful team that comes after this is going to have to remember 'Team2.'"
Email Jennifer Dailey at firstname.lastname@example.org.