Once again, the Landon School boys’ lacrosse team is the king of the Interstate Athletic Conference.
Landon (13-6) took control early in Saturday’s IAC championship match, then held off a late Bullis School challenge to win, 7-4, on Bullis’ Potomac campus.
For the Bears, it’s redemption from 2011, soured by an overtime loss to Georgetown Prep in the IAC title game.
This time, Landon made sure it wasn’t close.
“To lose the last one in overtime, it was the worst feeling,” said senior goalie Alex Joyce, who said he has been eyeing this type of celebration for a year now. “We definitely didn’t forget that feeling.”
There was more on the line, too: Landon was looking to avenge a 7-6 regular-season loss to Bullis.
Bullis senior attacker Matt Opsahl, who scored one goal in the loss, said Landon’s success came down to one factor.
“They won the ground ball battle, we didn’t,” said Opsahl, who played his first three seasons at Landon. “We didn’t get it down, that’s all it comes down it.”
The Bears were led by three goals from senior attacker Matt Potolicchio and two goals from senior midfielder Charlie Schnider.
Potolicchio had his hat trick before 16 minutes were played, part of Landon’s impressive start.
“They were focused on our stars,” said Potolicchio, alluding to senior midfielder Hank Brown and other members of Landon’s attack. “That left me to pick up the garbage.”
Counting Saturday’s scores, Potolicchio finished the season with the same number of goals (24) as Brown, who was held goalless by Bullis.
Potolicchio scored his first goal 2 minutes and 39 seconds into the match when he slammed a rebound past Bullis goalie Brandon Burke (7 saves). Peter Laco’s one-timer from 10 yards out later in the period gave the Bears a 2-0 edge.
Potolicchio extended Landon’s lead to 3-0 when he scored 1:20 into the second quarter, scooping up a loose ball and sneaking it past Burke before getting buried. Brown set up Potolicchio for a wide-open shot 3:44 into the second, giving the visitors a four-goal edge.
The Bulldogs got on the scoreboard midway through the second when senior attacker Kylor Bellistri snuck a shot over Joyce’s shoulder.
Landon led 5-1 at intermission, and the teams exchanged goals in the third quarter.
It seemed like the Bears had things in hand early in the fourth quarter when they extended their lead to 7-2, with Schnider scoring his second goal.
But Bullis rallied. The Bulldogs’ patience paid off with two man-up goals by Bellistri in a 52-second span. Both times Joyce had no answer for Bellistri’s crafty shots.
With 3:54 remaining and now down just three goals, Bullis turned up the heat. But the late pressure wouldn’t result in any additional scoring.
The loss meant Bullis ended what arguably is the most successful season in its history on a down note. The Bulldogs earned landmark wins against Landon and Georgetown Prep and played in the IAC title game for the first time.
Bullis coach Bobby Pollicino has seen his team progress steadily in recent seasons. Every season is different, Pollicino noted, but he thinks the upward trajectory can continue.
“We’re moving in the right direction,” Pollicino said. “It’s a matter of making sure the kids continue to do that. … We’re not trying to be competitive, we’re not trying to keep games close -- we’re in it to win it.”
Landon 7, Bullis 4
Landon 2 3 1 1—7
Bullis 0 1 1 2—4
Landon (13-6): Matt Potolicchio (9:21, 1st), Peter Laco (4:35, 1st), Potolicchio assisted by Hank Brown (10:40, 2nd), Potolicchio (8:16, 2nd), Jack Falk (2:07, 2nd), Charlie Schnider (5:43, 3rd), Schnider (8:37, 4th).
Bullis (14-4): Kylor Bellistri (5:24, 2nd), Matt Opsahl (8:27, 3rd, extra man), Bellistri (4:46, 4th, extra man), Bellistri (3:54, 4th, extra man).
SavesLandon: Alex Joyce 10.
Bullis: Brandon Burke 7.