Written by Samuel Graham ~ Quest Writer
Photo Credit: Lynchburg Men’s Lacrosse
The Hornets secured home field advantage in the upcoming Old Dominion Athletic Conference for the first time since 2015.
Lynchburg secured home field advantage in the 2023 ODAC men’s lacrosse tournament with a 14-2 victory over Hampden-Sydney Saturday. It will be the first time Lynchburg has hosted since 2015.
Lynchburg, Va. — When Dylan Wolfe scored a goal with 11:53 remaining in the third quarter, Lynchburg (12-5, 8-1 ODAC) had already effectively put the game out of reach from visiting Hampden-Sydney (13-4, 8-1 ODAC) on Saturday in a battle for the No. 1 seed in this week’s Old Dominion Athletic Conference Tournament.
The shot gave the Hornets a 10-1 advantage in a game Lynchburg would go on to win by a score of 14-2 on senior night.
However, the senior from Pasadena, Md. was welcomed back to the sideline as if he had just scored the go-ahead goal to win the national championship.
It was Wolfe’s 96th career point, but just his first since suffering an injury in mid-March that held him out of competition for nine games of his final season.
“Dylan is a special player and person,” said 27th-year men’s lacrosse head coach Steve Koudelka. “He is everyone’s biggest fan and when he scored, the guys gave it right back to him. Special for it to be on senior night.”
Photo Credit: Lynchburg Men’s Lacrosse
Dylan Wolfe celebrates a goal in an early season matchup with No. 6 Salisbury. Wolfe has scored 16 goals this season.
Having last played in a March 17 loss to No. 10 St. Lawrence in the 2023 Mustang Classic, Wolfe had the April 29 date with Hampden-Sydney circled on his calendar as soon as he was given the timeline for his return to play.
“It’s been a tough month being sidelined but there is always good that comes with the bad,” Wolfe said. “I have been able to find a new role of supporting the guys on the field and being a voice on the sideline.”
He has certainly fulfilled that role to the best of his ability, having frequently been spotted moving around the field at warp-speed during timeouts and pregame, aided by a pair of crutches nestled under each underarm.
Crediting the Lynchburg athletic training staff for his on-time recovery, Wolfe could not be more thankful for the opportunity to play and put a goal on the board for his team in his final regular season college lacrosse game.
“I scored it and every single person just celebrated and congratulated me,” he said. “It may be my favorite Lynchburg lacrosse moment.”
While knocking off rival Hampden-Sydney was a special moment for Wolfe and a big victory for the team, it also secured home field advantage for Lynchburg throughout the ODAC Tournament for the first time since 2015.
“Since we were freshmen, everyone has always talked about being able to win an ODAC title at home and then walk over to ring that bell,” said starting goalkeeper Tyler Hadley.
Lynchburg, which has won each of the past two ODAC championships, has done so away from home, knocking off Hampden-Sydney in last year’s title game at Washington & Lee.
Undefeated through its first five games, Lynchburg was well in control to bring the road to an ODAC title back to Lakeside Drive before a surprise loss to Randolph-Macon in Ashland, Va.
After the final horn sounded on that loss, Lynchburg outscored its next three opponents by a combined score of 62-9, finishing the regular season on a three-game win streak to clinch the regular season championship in style.
“Ever since we lost to Randolph-Macon, we have been viewing every game like a playoff game,” said Hadley, who was recently named ODAC Defensive player of the week for the fifth time this season after saving 86.7% of the shots he faced in goal against Hampden-Sydney. “Having that mentality going into [the Hampden-Sydney game] really gave us an edge.”
The last time Lynchburg hosted the ODAC tournament as the No. 1 seed, it won the conference tournament before going on to reach the national championship game, falling to Tufts to finish as national runners-up.
Hosting the conference tournament was one of several goals going into this season, before the team turns its attention to the NCAA Division III men’s lacrosse Tournament.
“[Shelly] is the best environment and our students and fan support is always awesome,” Koudelka said.
The Hornets will officially begin the postseason on Thursday, with the championship game slated for Saturday, should they win their semifinal matchup.
The group will enter that game carrying a lot of confidence as it searches for its third-straight conference title.
“The potential for this team cannot be put into words,” Wolfe said. “We have all the pieces to accomplish the goals we have put in front of ourselves. We will let our play do the talking from here on out.”