The Langley High boys’ lacrosse team did plenty of good things in its season-ending 6-5 loss to visiting Oakton on May 15.
The Saxons, champions of the Liberty District, gave it all they had in their Northern Region quarterfinals round contest against the tough Cougars. They defended well throughout the game, received solid work in the net from goalie Galen Kuney and showed outstanding resiliency by fighting back and eventually tying the contest after falling into a 3-0 deficit.
But, in the end, it was not quite enough for the Saxons (12-4), who reached the quarterfinals round by defeating West Springfield in first round tournament action.
The contest with Oakton was decided in the final minute. The Saxons, who had trailed all game, scored the tying goal on a 10-yard bounce shot off the left side from junior midfielder Ryan Ningard, making it 5-5 with five minutes, 58 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter.
Thereafter, over the next several minutes, both teams played at a fever pitch with the contest on the line. Following a steal by Langley senior defender Will Myers, the Saxons had the ball and called timeout with 2:46 remaining.
But Langley could not get off a good shot following the timeout. Then Oakton, once it regained possession, came up with what proved to be the game-winner when junior middie Nick Stevens got free off the left side and, running towards the net, scored from 10 yards out off a bounce shot. The score, which ignited a spontaneous Oakton celebration by its players and fans, came with 1:19 left in the final quarter and put Oakton ahead 6-5.
<b>BUT THERE</b> was still time left. Langley’s Owen Masters won the face-off following the Oakton score. Thereafter, Saxon shots on goal from Masters, senior attack Greg Bentz and sophomore middie Bryan Clubb did not get through. The final shot, a sizzling 25-yarder off the right side from Clubb, was knocked away by Oakton keeper Joey McCallum as the final whistle blew to end the game and the season for coach Earl Brewer’s Langley team. It was a good, final minute charge by Langley.
"They’ve got an awful lot of good players," said Oakton defensive coach Jon Weston, of the Saxons. "They are well coached and a fine team."
Oakton senior attackman Adam Kubiak, one of five Cougar team captains, said his team gained the early momentum by going ahead 3-0 in the first half. Oakton (13-6) had gotten first quarter goals from junior attack James Wheatley and sophomore middie Andrew Leonard to go ahead 2-0. Then, early in the second quarter, another score from Leonard, coming from close range following a rebound off the left side, made it 3-0 Cougars.
"We got momentum with the lead," said Kubiak. "I just think we came out hungry. That was the difference."
Langley’s Masters scored his team’s first goal from 12-yards out. The Saxon sharp shooter scored while running right to left across the goal area. That score got Langley within 3-1 with 8:32 remaining in the first half.
Less then four minutes later, the Saxons scored again when senior midfielder Tim Goeke, moving right, landed the ball high into the net from 15 yards out to get Langley closer at 3-2.
Oakton, however, got back some of the momentum when, with 3:55 left in the first half, senior attack James McClellan, off a pass from Leonard, scored from close range off the right side.
<b>LANGLEY</b>, trailing 4-2 at the half, got within 4-3 during the latter stages of the third quarter when Ningard scored on a wrap-around shot to get the home team Saxons within 4-3 with 4:43 showing on the clock.
But Oakton scored the final goal of the third on a score from senior middie Rob Loster.
Even so, Langley would not fold. The Saxons, over the first six minutes of the fourth quarter, got goals from Bentz and Ningard to tie the game at 5-5. Ningard scored his equalizer after holding on to the ball for about 30 seconds, looking for an opening in the Oakton defense.
Langley had worked hard all game long to get back into the contest. But after tying the game up, the Saxons could never get the go-ahead score. Instead, Oakton’s Stevens scored what proved to be the game-winner off the left side with just over six minutes left to play.
"He had been going right with the ball and getting caught in the middle [earlier]," said coach Weston, of Stevens. "We told him to go to his left. He had a slot and got a good shot and put it on goal."
Overall, it was a hard fought defensive battle.
"We played 48 minutes of defense," said Weston. "That’s what our strength is."
Oakton, with the win, was set to move on to the region semifinals against the Robinson-Annandale winner on Monday of this week.
For Langley, the loss to the Cougars ended its season.
In its prior game, Langley had been in a close playoff contest with West Springfield with the score tied at 2-2, before the Saxons reeled off nine straight goals to win the game decisively and advance.
"West Springfield came out fired up and played us tough," said Langley coach Earl
Brewer. "We then got settled down and did the good things we normally do."