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Thrice as Nice: Cougars Wear State Crown

Oakton girls lacrosse beats Chantilly, 20-11, to win third consecutive state title.

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The Cougars Douse head coach Jean Counts with waters after winning the VHSL state girls lacrosse title.

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After scoring nine goals against Chantilly in the Northern Region finals, Oakton senior Ashley Kimener had seven goals and two assists on Saturday.

Oakton’s girl lacrosse team had a three hour practice the day before it played Chantilly for the VHSL AAA state championship. The Cougars had already lost to the Chargers twice this season and coupled with the fact that the two-time defending state champions have been overlooked as title contenders most of the year, Oakton entered the game with plenty of motivation. It showed as Oakton scored early and often and dominated the game, winning 20-11 at Westfield High School on Saturday night.

“We wanted everything. We wanted the satisfaction. We wanted to prove everybody wrong,” said senior Erin Sensabaugh, who tallied five goals.

The state finals game was never in doubt as Oakton scored the game’s first three goals. Chantilly briefly got back into the contest, scoring two in row, but Oakton then ran away with it.

Prior to the Concorde District tournament, Oakton was 4-4 on the season and didn’t look a team destined to three-peat as state champs. They advanced to the semifinals but lost to Chantilly before going on to win the Northern Region championship. The Cougars were nearly bounced from the state tournament as they escaped with a 12-10 win over Loudoun Valley in the semifinals.

Calling that game a wake up call, Oakton head coach Jean Counts said the teams rollercoaster season gives the title a different feeling than winning it last year, when Oakton was the heavy favorites.

“This year is especially nice and as we had a lot of naysayers in the beginning,” Counts said.

Chantilly, the Concorde District Tournament champions, fell behind early and could not keep up with the potent Oakton attack.

“It was just too much for us tonight. Oakton came out ready to win it. They are used to it, they have been here before,” said Chantilly head coach Michele Gates, whose Chargers fell in the region final to the Cougars, 14-12. The Chargers were led by Brittany Griel’s four goals.

Gates said she expects her team to be playing in the state tournament finals again next season.

Oakton’s offense came alive in the state tournament, averaging 19.7 goals while giving up 8.7 per game. Tory Morgan, who was consistent since the regional tournament, was peppered with Chantilly shots but made a number of nice saves as Morgan was able to be more aggressive, playing with such a large lead.

Against Chantilly, senior Ashley Kimener had seven goals and two assists, bringing her. Kimener, who Counts calls the best player Oakton lacrosse has ever had, missed most of last year’s state title game after getting two yellow cards in the first half. Despite losing to Chantilly twice this season, Kimener said the magnitude of the championship game was the difference this time.

“Mainly it was the state game, we wanted it and we were not going to lose to them,” Kimener said.

The practice Oakton had before the championship game was the teams 63rd on the season. Even though they Cougars have six seniors on their roster, players said the practice was needed to fine tune their game.

“I was glad we had it,” Kimener said.