When the Woodson boys lacrosse team recorded its impressive 12-2 regional semifinal victory over Oakton, the Cavaliers were not all smiles. They lost their senior defender Blake Yanick to a broken fibia and tibia.
“It wasn’t a hard hit,” said head coach Jon FitzGerald, “but it came straight through his shin.”
It was like someone broke a pencil with a karate chop, explained FitzGerald.
After the Cavaliers' 8-6 regional championship victory Robinson on Monday, Woodson's players folded away its regional championship banner and then lifted one they had made. It read, ‘Do It for Blake.’
“[Yanick] is the most loved player on the team,” said FitzGerald.
THE TITLE game was a back and forth affair, with both teams going through spells of offensive brilliance and defensive determination. In fact, the teams were so evenly matched that the first half ended in a 4-4 tie, with the Rams taking the lead twice, 1-0 and 4-3, and Woodson leading 3-1 at one point before the teams closed out the half with four goals each.
“This is a pure team,” said FitzGerald of the Cavaliers. “We played great team defense.”
Less than two minutes into the third quarter, Woodson attack Tommy Cawley scored a goal to put the Cavaliers up 5-4. The Rams responded with two goals. Senior midfielder Tyler Zinck scored his second goal of the night to tie the game with 8:42 left in the half. Less than a minute later junior Matt Kugler scored for the third time to give Rams a 6-5 advantage. However, Rams’ sixth goal of the night, coming with 7:53 left to play in the third quarter, would be their last. Woodson senior goalkeeper Ross Fernandez saved back-to-back shots with less than five minutes to go in the third quarter, and again two minutes later, to keep Robinson from increasing its advantage.
Fernandez’s saves put Woodson in a position from which it could tie the game. The Cavaliers did so with 2:43 left in the third quarter through sophomore Paul Gaski. The third-quarter scoring did not end there, as the Cavaliers pushed on and took a 7-6 lead with 18 seconds left in the quarter when senior Philipp Marschall scored on an assist by Brandon Butler, an All-American selection. Butler settled the scoring at 8-6 with 11:21 left in the game. The remainder of the game was a defensive battle in which both goalkeepers flourished again.
“We are also going to have to improve defensively [in order to do well in the state tournament],” said Fernandez, because Yanick is lost to injury.
The Cavaliers offense managed 34 goals in its first three regional matches, prior to the eight-goal performance in the final. Butler said the team came out a bit sloppy, but played with a lot of heart, which kept them in the game. He said the team wanted to get out at Robinson and play hard for Yanick. “We came out fired up,” said Butler.
ROBINSON COACH Justin Fitzgerald said Woodson won the game because of its defensive play. “They played tremendous team defense and the goalie came up with huge saves,” he said. He added that the Rams are a team that learns and gets better with each game they play, and that tonight’s lesson is one of many that will hopefully get them to the state final. According to Jon FitzGerald, he and some members of the Woodson team plan on visiting Yanick in his room in Fairfax Hospital, “to bring him the trophy and cheer him up a bit.”
The Cavaliers defeated Culpeper 12-5 in the state tournament first round on Tuesday night. They will now face Oakton, 14-7 winners over Broad Run, in the semifinal on Thursday night. The Rams beat Osbourn High School 14-0, and will play against North Stafford to fight for a right to play in the state final.