By Julie Deacon
The Western Albemarle varsity boys lacrosse program experienced an action-packed season, currently holding a 12-3 record with their postseason playoffs currently underway. The team is led by head coach Mario Washington and assistant coaches Daniel Martin and Jake Wilson, who worked to cultivate a tight-knit bond among the team of talented players.
Throughout the season, seniors Ross Bassett and Tyler Spano, sophomores Quinn Shifflett and Chris Baglio, and freshman Liam Wesh have been the highest contributing midfielders. The team’s defense was led by senior Ben Stevens and captain Will Ferguson, with players Freddie Von Lewinski, Haden Powell, Will Dressel, and Captain Jake Fontaine making up the rest of the unit, all of whom have been essential to the team’s defensive success.
On offense, two junior attackmen, captain Quinn Reilly and Cole Baglio, led the team to victories. The pair has more than 150 combined points and have been playing together since childhood. Senior Rush Higginbotham tallied 39 points over the season and has also been integral to the team’s attack unit.
Head coach Washington, who won the 2021 Central Virginia boys lacrosse Coach of the Year award, is particularly proud of the depth of the team and the seven-game win streak that the team embarked on following two losses to out-of-region opponents.
Washington noted how well the team worked together throughout the regular season and in the playoffs. “This 2023 team has been having a successful year in terms of wins, but this year has been more about how close-knit this team has become and the bond they’ve all relied on this year,” Washington said. “We are incredibly excited for the postseason.”
Every member of the varsity team demonstrated tremendous leadership and determination, particularly seniors Tyler Spano and Grant Karczewski. Both athletes have collegiate-level athletic careers ahead of them. Spano is the team’s captain midfielder and will be playing for Washington & Lee this fall. Just a few games ago, Spano made the amazing feat of reaching the 800-career faceoff wins and has a chance to leave Western Albemarle as the rightful record owner for faceoffs won in a career for the state of Virginia. Spano has acquired 89 points this season, with 89 percent—or 324—faceoffs won, cementing himself as one of the most talented players in the state.
Fellow senior Grant Karczewski is an ambitious dual-sport athlete, contributing heavily to the success of the varsity team as an attackman. He has committed to play football at Virginia Tech this fall. Karczewski earned 18 points so far this season and became one of the best long-range shooters in the area.
The team has their sights set on a chance to play in the state championship.