Having fallen behind after five straight unanswered goals from the Eagles, things looked bleak for the Jesuit Rangers lacrosse team following the first quarter of last Sunday’s Texas High School Lacrosse Division 1 State championship against ESD in Katy, Texas. By halftime, they didn’t look much better at 6-1, the lone first half goal coming on an inside shot by attackman Peter Buell ’19 in a half dominated by the Eagles. However, the Rangers were up to the task.
The Rangers came out of halftime with renewed fire, determination, and unwillingness to let the seniors’ last game in the gold helmets be a loss. As Trey Wiederecht ’17 put it, “it was the last time I was going to put on this uniform. Coach always tells us to die hard, having no regrets upon leaving this place.” Such a surge culminated in a 5 goal third-quarter effort and an eventual unprecedented 9-8 comeback and repeat State Championship win for Jesuit.
Defenseman Aidan Johnston ’18 said of the comeback, “We’re a second-half team, we outscored them 8-2 in the second half, just as we outscored Highland Park 5-1 in the second half of Semi’s.” Johnston, who was awarded defensive MVP honors for his own contributions to the game, with four ground balls, went on to compliment the offensive unit saying, “Daniel Burnum ’17 was a big help in bringing us back in the game,” citing the All-District Attackman’s four goals over the course of the game, with two goals and an assist coming during the third quarter run and two more goals in the fourth on his way to Offensive MVP honors of the game.
Key offensive contributors Jack Tabor ’18, Trey Wiederecht ’17, and Jacob Jackson ’19 also tallied goals in the third. Tabor, a multifaceted threat for the team, excelling on offense, defense, faceoffs, and everywhere in between, played a massive role in both the semifinal and championship wins for the Rangers, putting up a goal and an assist against ESD and their goals and an assist against Highland Park in the semifinal. Wiederecht, following recovery from a knee surgery this summer, showed up during the Ranger’s Championship run as well, tallying four goals and an assist against Memorial in the regional finals.
The fourth quarter scoring began with a long distance goal from junior Midfielder Grayson Hassell, continuing the ongoing Ranger surge and closing the five-goal gap the Rangers had faced at halftime. Burnum’s third goal then brought the Ranger’s their first lead of the game, eliciting a wild reaction from the entire Jesuit bench, crowd, and fan base watching via live stream from around the country. The Eagles struck back with a goal of their own, but soon let up the final goal from Daniel Burnum with just over five minutes left in the game, putting the Rangers up 9-8. The Defensive unit then protected the lead and finished by causing a timely turnover off a stick check from junior defenseman Greyson Mokarow.
The entire team was amazed by the clutch play of Senior Goalie Luke Millican, who on a number of his 11 saves bailed the team out, keeping them from a certainly greater deficit. “He was phenomenal, he stood on his head as he does in every playoff game,” says teammate Trey Wiederecht, who couldn’t help but be impressed when Millican recovered to the cage, stopping what should have been a go-ahead goal in the final minutes of the game, securing the win and Millican’s overall Most Valuable Player Honors for the game. Millican, who wore Miracle on Ice Goalie Jim Craig’s jersey the entire weekend in between games, played in a manner reminiscent of the USA Hockey Olympic gold medalist, making an astonishing 26 saves in the Semi-Final and Championship games combined.
Millican and an impressive defensive display in the second half opened up the opportunity for the offense to capitalize on possessions, as All-American junior Midfielder and team leader in goals and points David Sprock says, ”the game turned out to be a defensive win since they showed great resilience and were able to hold them to just two goals the entire second half, enabling us to come back.” The performance was just the latest in latest in a season of great displays by this unit, led by All-American Goalie Luke Millican and All-District defensemen Dixon Smith ’17 and Aidan Johnston.
The team was thrilled to have secured its second straight State Championship, after winning the program’s first-ever title a year ago. “I couldn’t be more proud,” said Coach Surran in a post-game interview before being doused by ice water by players, expressing his delight in the dedication of the team up to this point and their motivation to go back to back.