“Alright, George — Go on out there and get it done.”
Those were the instructions for senior midfielder George Martin headed into the final quarter of the Indian River High School lacrosse team’s matchup against Lake Forest on Wednesday, May 10.
With the Indians up 16-2, Martin had already notched four goals and two assists through the game’s first three quarters, putting him at 296 points on his career and knocking on the door of becoming the first player at Indian River to ever reach 300 — a target he had been aiming for ever since stepping onto the field as a freshman.
Four years later, and with just four points left to go, the now-seasoned senior captain was ready to finally reach that mark.
“At that point, the coaches just told me, ‘Let’s just get it done,’” said Martin of the fourth-quarter strategy. “They basically said, ‘We’re gonna put the ball in your stick and let you get it over with, so we can get focused on Delmar next week.’”
So, concerned more with the team’s still-alive playoff hopes and last regular-season game, getting it out of the way is what he went out there and did.
First up was career-point No. 297, which came on the ensuing possession, the ball eventually working its way around to Martin, who drew his man up high then prepared for the take, finishing with a shot to the net’s top-right corner to put the Indians up 17-2, just like that.
Three more points still left to go, and 11:07 left on what had been a running clock since the half.
The next point went down almost the same, that time ending with a low-angled shot that bounced off the Lake keeper’s left cleat and shot up into the net’s side pocket for No. 298.
Two more still left to go.
Then, with just over five minutes left, Martin took the ball and set up above the restraining line yet again, that time drawing a double-team while dodging down toward the near pipe and dishing it off to senior midfielder Max Stong, who finished the chance for point No. 299.
Just one more point still left to go out there and get over with.
With the running clock now starting to run down, however, so were the opportunities for 300 as the Spartans maintained possession on the field’s opposite side.
Senior goalkeeper Hayden McWilliams to the rescue.
After a McWilliams stop on the other end, Martin’s longtime teammate and fellow captain got the ball back up the field, where he was waiting for his chance, hauling in the clear at midfield then marking up his defender for one last take, starting off with a quick stutter-step and then shouldering through another double-team before letting loose a side-wound shot that splashed the back of the net for his seventh goal of the game and the 300th point of his career, still with time left to spare.
“It’s exciting. I’m glad I was able to do it, and it was definitely cool to be able to have Hayden right there for it,” Martin said of the 300 ball. “Those 10 points today all felt good. None of them felt forced or out of position; it was just fun being out there with my team today.”
“It’s a big accomplishment,” said IR head coach Jim Dietsch, who has coached Martin for the past four years and coaches lacrosse at various levels for the past 45 years. “And if you look at the numbers this year, he’s got just as many assists. Every team comes after him — doubles him, tries to shut him off — and he still finds the open man. He’s just an unselfish player.”
Along with McWilliams, Martin makes up one of only two remaining starters from the program’s first-ever team to qualify for the DIAA state tournament back in 2014, both of them picking up the game while growing up in Annapolis before making the move to Sussex County and earning their starting spots for the Indians in their freshmen seasons.
That was the year that “G-Mart” burst onto the scene, racking up 28 goals and 15 assists his rookie season and following up with 43 goals and 20 assists as a sophomore. After collecting First-Team All-Conference honors and finishing with 45 goals and 33 assists as a junior in 2016, Martin would head into his senior season sitting at 184 total points on his career.
But even after starting his senior campaign by surpassing another individual milestone he had set for himself — becoming the school’s first 1,000-yard rusher since 2013 as a running back on the football team — hopes of hitting 300 looked all but out of realistic reach with 116 points left to go — a total well beyond his previous season high of 78.
He’d instead deicide to go for 250 — the mark Sussex Tech grad Jason Whaley had totaled to become the Ravens’ all-time leading scorer just a year prior — before a quick start to the spring, where he’d break the 200 career-points barrier less than two games in, made 300 seem like it just might be in reach after all.
“After those first few games, it seemed like it became more and more possible every week,” Martin recalled, going on to explain that setting his sights back on 300 and eventually finally getting there wouldn’t have been possible without the help and support of his teammates and coaches.
“I’m truly blessed to be part of a program like this, with the coaches and players that we have. Having guys like Cole [Josetti] and Gianni [Gottschalk] and Wyatt [Kovatch], who can all finish and who really stepped up for us this year — just everyone. This is just a great group of guys, and I’m glad to be able to experience it with them.”
While 1,000 yards and 300 points may be already in the books, there are still a few more orders of business that Martin plans on taking care of before his career at IR comes to a close and he ships off for the U.S. Naval Academy next fall.
Not only is he hoping that both he and McWilliams will crack the All-State list, but Martin and the rest of this year’s senior class are also hoping to be able to hang it up having won a game in the DIAA-state tournament for the first time in IR lacrosse history.
After graduating later this spring, Martin will, of course, have a whole new set of targets to set his sights on, beginning this summer, when he hopes to earn a roster spot on the Naval Academy’s lacrosse team.
Making the cut as a Division I athlete and full-time Midshipmen may be his most ambitious endeavor to date, but considering his track record during his career at IR, Martin’s coaches have no doubts that he’ll be able to once again, “Go on out there, and get it done.”
“George is a captain, a leader, and he’s a quality kid. His best years are ahead of him,” said Dietsch. “I can honestly say that he’s one of the better offensive players that I’ve worked with in all my 45 years of coaching. He’s got it all — the quickness, the vision, the IQ and a cannon for a shot. If he keeps working hard and playing lacrosse all year round, he’ll be an All-American — there’s no doubt in my mind.”