Several hundred supportive fans turned out Wednesday night to watch : a matchup against Pope for a spot in the state championship game.
But they left disappointed. Decatur fell behind quickly and never caught up to the Greyhounds. The final score was 11-6.
Pope scored in the first seven seconds of the game to set the tone. Decatur's Jonah Florence responded with a goal at the 10:54 mark, but Pope dominated the rest of the half.
The Greyhounds played ball control offense and systematically reeled off seven straight goals to make the score 8-1 at intermission. The Bulldogs got off very few shots.
The third period opened with a bright spot or Decatur. Sophomore Deangelo Watkins scored at the 10:50 mark, but Pope came right back and scored less than a minute later, making the score 9-2.
Pope scored two more times in the third period. Watkins scored again and Lang Rogers, Kurt Robinson and Nick Bentley also got into the scoring column during the fourth period.
Decatur ends its season with a 14-6 record, but can feel good about having moved deeper into the playoffs than ever before. Pope, now 16-3-1, advances to the finals against Lambert, which defeated Westminster.
Jim Scully of the Decatur Bulldog Boosters provided this account of the game, which provides new detail.
In the semi-final round of the A - AAAA state lacrosse playoffs it would be Pope High School advancing to the finals against powerhouse Lambert. In this match, we were underBulldogs, no doubt. The Pope roster included two All Americans and three All-State honorees, all of whom are returners from the 2011 runner-up state championship squad.
Although the score was never truly close, Decatur never gave up. Pope led at halftime by a score of 8 - 1, with five of Pope's 11 goals coming in the first quarter while, due being on the short end of the coin toss, Ben Rigger had to fend off the powerful Pope attack staring directly into the sun. But in the second half Decatur outscored Pope 5 -3 with some of the most spirited play witnessed all year.
Decatur has never before made it this far in the state playoffs and our future looks bright. With the exception of a goal by senior Kurt Robinson in the 4th quarter, Decatur's goals were scored by sophomores Deangelo Watkins (2 goals), Jonah Florence (1), Nick Bently (1) and freshman Lang Rogers (1). Lang also earned the game jacket with outstanding defense throughout the game and his impressive face-off performance against Pope's All-American midfielder, who is heading to Duke University on a full athletic scholarship.
Many of us (author included) have been watching these guys play lacrosse since they were youngsters. Coach Rigger has coached many of them himself. It was no surprise that coach Rigger positioned himself between senior defensemen and cousins, Sam Weitnauer and Davis Byrd, during Decatur's traditional arm-in-arm National Anthem ceremony to savor the moment of mutual accomplishment. Sam, Davis and their fellow seniors players, IV Dennard, Britt Pendergrast, Kurt Robinson and Jack Scully played like it was the last competition of their high school careers….because, indeed, it was.
Congratulations to the 2011-2012 team for a great season, and best of luck next year!