Spring sports strive for state championships


Photo courtesy of @churchillboyslacrosse and @churchillbaseball.

The boys lacrosse team (left) and boys baseball team (right) both come out to warm up for games during the 2021 season. Both teams look to continue their success from last year with state championship wins in 2022.

By Justin Greenzaid, Sports Editor

March 1, 2022 marks a new beginning for many student-athletes. More specifically, it marks the race for a state championship ring for both the boys lacrosse and baseball teams. Both teams were regional champions last year and look to build upon their previous success this upcoming season. The baseball team has not won a state championship since 1979 and a Montgomery County team has never won the state championship for lacrosse. 

As both teams are looking to make history this spring, there is no doubt a multitude of talent. The baseball and lacrosse teams make up nine out of the 18 total NCAA commitments at WCHS. Both teams are fueled by strong senior and junior classes, making the state championship run ever so urgent. 

“Our team’s biggest strength is that we have many upperclassmen with tons of experience playing in big games. Five-sixths of our starters are back on offense, and we have many players who are looking to fill the roles of kids we lost from last season,” senior lacrosse team captain and University of Maryland commit Eliot Dubick said. 

The lacrosse team has won the regional championship for six consecutive years, yet has never been able to win the big game. They fell short in the state championship in 2015, 2017 and 2018, but look to get back there this year and win it. With the rich history the team has, it is surprising they have yet to win a state title. If the team can finally pull it off this year, it would be a huge win for the community and alumni that suffered heartbreaking losses in the past. 

“Churchill lacrosse is more than the players who are on the team right now. There are so many phenomenal players that have set a path for the players on this team to succeed. Each day we go out there as a team we are thankful for the past bulldog lax players,” Dubick said.

The lacrosse team is coming off a 10-1 season in 2021, with their only loss coming at the hand of Severna Park in the first round of state playoffs. The team returns many vital players from 2021, including seniors Dubick, Andrew Murphy, Sam Bunten, Evan Shure, and Jack Pogorelc. All five have been playing together since freshman year and look to finally convert on their goal before graduation. While Dubick (University of Maryland), Murphy (Rhodes College) and Bunten (Dickinson College) will continue playing in college, nothing is like playing in high school.

“I think everyone on the team has such a great relationship with one another due to the fact that we start preparing continuously during the off season because we all know that we are capable of great things. We all try to work as a whole and it shows on the field,” Shure said.

On the other hand, the baseball team looks to build upon very recent success, coming off a 2021 regional championship win, which marks the first time for them in eight years. The team went 9-4 and defeated Bethesda-Chevy Chase in the regional championship, but later took a devastating loss in the state playoffs against Dulaney, 5-4. The team, led by junior and Wake Forest commit Chris Hacopian, as well as seniors Erik Rindner (University of Chicago), Matt Roche (Wooster College), Zane Gross and Cayman Hubbarth (Montgomery College), look to get back right where they left off. 

“The way things ended last year blew after we lost in the quarterfinals of states on a walkoff,” Hacopian said. “We were pumped to bring home a region championship for the first time in a long time but we are really trying to win the state championship this year, something I definitely think we can accomplish.”

The baseball team will still have some tough competition this year from Walter Johnson and Whitman but ultimately this experienced Bulldog squad should be able to make a deep run for states. The team is returning their entire starting lineup from last year, and have only gotten bigger, faster and stronger in the 365 days that have passed. 

Like the lacrosse team, the baseball team also has a very tight bond. Some players play on the same travel teams outside of school, forging even stronger team chemistry. 

“We definitely want to repeat as regional champions for the first time ever and ultimately win states. The fact that our whole starting lineup is returning last year is a scary sight for other Moco teams.” Roche said. “My teammates are my brothers and I can’t wait to be with the boys at practice everyday getting better.”

Both teams are extremely similar to one another and definitely have what it takes to be state champions. The team chemistry and leadership of both teams are unmatched and will play a huge part in their success this year. If both teams can pull off state championship wins, it would be astounding, although it is definitely not out of the question. 

Look for the teams to take the field starting in late-March. The baseball team will open their regular season on March 21 at Einstein and the lacrosse team will open their season that same day on the road, as well, against Damascus. 

“I am pumped to finally get back out there with my brothers and prove to everyone that we are the best team in the state. I love each one of my teammates and I think this team is special and will win it all,” Hacopian said.