Walter Johnson High School boys’ lacrosse senior Chase Keller has been a steady defensive presence all season, using his size, athleticism and vocal leadership to anchor the Wildcats backline.
But playing in his final regular season game, on senior night against Rockville, Keller went into unfamiliar territory, running coast-to-coast with the ball and launching it into the back of the net.
The goal — his second of the season — put his team ahead 9-1, and the Wildcats (11-3) went on to defeat the Rams 14-2 Saturday in Bethesda.
“[Scoring is] not his forte but he is absolutely the leader of our defense,” Walter Johnson coach Alan Pohoryles said. “He is the guy who is constantly telling everybody where to be, what offense [the other team is] running ... and holding everybody accountable. He’s really, truly an amazing leader.”
Walter Johnson heads into the postseason on a three-game win streak after its win over Rockville (8-4).
“We’re in a great spot,” Keller said. “We ended these last three games with wins — with good wins — so I think we have momentum right now.”
Keller had 31 forced turnovers prior to Saturday’s game, leading all 4A/3A South Division players and third-best among Montgomery County public schools. His only other goal came in a 6-5 victory over Glenelg.
“He brings so much energy to every game,” senior Max Vanegas said. “No matter if we’re up by 10, or down by five, Chase is going to go out there, [be] crazy, banging his head and getting the whole team fired up, just screaming. He just brings so much energy to the team.”
Junior Sam Quick had a team-high four goals while Vanegas and Jordan Cooper, both seniors, had three apiece. Senior Harris Cope added a goal and dominated the faceoffs in the blowout victory.
Vanegas’ three goals, all unassisted, helped give the Wildcats an 8-1 lead at halftime. The senior midfielder has 28 goals on the season after recording about 15 last year, Pohoryles said.
“Last year he wasn’t nearly as controlled and this year he has just been electric and he’s got confidence, and that’s what it takes,” Pohoryles said.
The Wildcats’ 12 seniors were recognized with a ceremony after the game.
“It’s definitely the best [season],” Keller said. “It means the most to me because it’s the last time I’ll be playing lacrosse with all my brothers. They’re my best friends. So it means a lot.”
Walter Johnson 14, Rockville 2
Rockville 0 1 0 1 — 2
Walter Johnson 6 2 5 1 — 14
Rockville (8-4): Goals — Sean Jordan 1, Peter Verity 1.
Walter Johnson (11-3): Goals — Sam Quick 4, Jordan Cooper 3, Max Vanegas 3, Garret Brennan 1, Harris Cope 1, Chase Keller 1, Jimmy Wyderko 1.