PERRYSBURG — Something motivated Perrysburg boys lacrosse to play their best game of the year Tuesday at Steinecker Stadium.
Perhaps it was the Perrysburg team’s trip to Ann Arbor to watch Michigan and Ohio State play on Friday that provided the motivation.
Perrysburg connected on 59% of their shots (22-of-37) in defeating Bowling Green, 22-3, in a key Northern Lakes League game Tuesday.
Perrysburg (7-4 overall) takes control of the NLL race at 5-1, while BG falls to 6-7 and 2-3.
BG came in winning two straight games over Sylvania Northview and Anthony Wayne, and last week’s 13-9 victory over the Generals was BG’s first ever win over AW in conference play. Meanwhile, Perrysburg’s only league loss this season came to AW (10-9).
However, on the pitch at Widdell Field Tuesday, the Yellow Jackets dominated every aspect of play, including shutting down BG’s senior standout Evan Brandt, who will play for the University of Indianapolis next year.
Part of the reason for the trip to Ann Arbor, whether intentionally or unintentionally, was to be prepared to defend against the 6-foot-2, 200-pound Brandt.
“So, we took a team bonding trip up to UM and saw the physicality of play,” Perrysburg coach Baily Weatherwax said. “He’s a big kid, man, so we had to match physicality with physicality, and I think it worked.
“We didn’t have the best practice yesterday, but we were firing on all cylinders today. I think what revamped us was going to see some high-level lacrosse, to know that we can play to that level.”
Perrysburg senior long stick midfielder Ethan Johnson has seen college lacrosse before because his older brother, Lourdes University fifth-year senior midfielder Nick Johnson, is one of the Gray Wolves top scorers.
However, Johnson says the trip to Ann Arbor paid dividends.
“It is really fast paced,” Ethan Johnson said. “It’s good for the newer kids because we have a lot of new kids on our team.
“They (BG) beat Anthony Wayne. They are respected pretty well, and I think that team bonding event did us some good.”
Johnson, who played offense more in last week’s 3-2 win over Sylvania Northview, played mostly midfield and defense on Tuesday to help with stopping Brandt.
“He’s a really good player, so we talked about him before going into the game that we needed to set him aside early,” Johnson said.
“He’s got a hot hand and he can really shoot from anywhere. We needed to double (Brandt) from anywhere. Collectively as a group we decided that we had to jump on him.”
Perrysburg jumped on AW quickly, taking a 7-0 lead before Brandt was finally able to score with six seconds remaining in the first quarter. The Jackets were up 14-2 at the half, and a running clock ensued from there on.
Four different Yellow Jackets performed hat tricks, led by sophomore midfielder Zachary Schroeder with five goals and two assists, senior attack Cameron Davidson had four goals and three assists, and junior midfielder Trey Haney had four goals and three assists.
Senior attack Evan Wolaver and sophomore attacks Evan Ludwig and Grandin LeBoutillier each scored two goals with one assist for Perrysburg.
Senior midfielder Andrew Schmidbauer scored twice, sophomore attack Jack Hammond scored once, and Johnson had an assist.
For the Bobcats, Brandt was held to one goal and two assists and senior attack Michael Kisor scored twice.
Perrysburg took 20-of-29 faceoffs behind junior Alexander Birch, who took on the majority of draws. Perrysburg sophomore Nathan Ettore and junior Alexander Scarborough combined to make eight saves in goal.
BG coach Devin Radcliff saw his team enter the game with high hopes and a possibility remained for winning the program’s first-ever boys NLL lacrosse championship. He said the win over AW proved what his team is capable of.
“It just demonstrated that when you take care of the ball, when you are on offense, you win the transition game, and win the middle of the field and on defense, good things happen,” Radcliff said.
“That’s what we kind of harp on, try to work on in practice is just take care of the little things and good things happen from there.
“When we take care of the ball on offense, get some shots on the back of possessions, and get a clear on D and win the middle of the field transition battle, things happen, and we can play some good ball. We just need to get back to work.”