With the Liberty District tournament set to begin Friday, May 1, the South Lakes High boys’ lacrosse team is playing at a high level. The Seahawks reached the .500 mark for the season with a pair of wins at its own Live, Laugh, Love Invitational, on Saturday, April 25. At the second annual, three-team benefit event, South Lakes won both of its games, triumphs over Dominion High of the Dulles District and Yorktown High of the National District.
South Lakes, with the two wins, improved its overall record to 5-5 this season. The team was set to conclude the regular season with a district home game against Jefferson on Tuesday, April 28, before beginning postseason play on Friday.
The Live, Laugh, Love event benefited school programs at both South Lakes and local Reston elementary school Sunrise Valley. The annual tournament is dedicated to Anita Cox, a popular team lacrosse parent who died last year. Cox’s son, since-graduated Trevor Cox, was a senior member of the Seahawks’ lacrosse team last spring. Currently, he is attending New York University on an academic scholarship.
The benefit tournament took place for the first time last year in memory of Anita Cox. South Lakes head coach Matt Blamey said he hopes to run the late season tournament every year.
"It was a great day," said Blamey, of Saturday’s high school lacrosse extravaganza, which not only honored Anita Cox but included South Lakes’ Senior Night festivities.
Prior to its 7:30 p.m. contest against Yorktown, the Seahawks conducted pre-game Senior Night ceremonies to celebrate the high school careers of the Seahawks’ 13 varsity players. Also recognized were the team’s three 12th grade managers.
"This is a senior class that has turned this program around," said Blamey. "It was a pretty emotional night for me and them. The kids have been great, and their parents have been great."
<b>THE SOUTH LAKES</b> seniors have helped turn the program’s fortunes around on the field. Last year, South Lakes, which in past years had struggled to win games, put together a competitive squad that finished the spring with a 6-7 record, certainly nothing to be ashamed about. This season, the team is once again winning its fair share of games.
South Lakes is focused on qualifying for this season’s 16-team Northern Region playoffs, set to begin in two weeks. In order to do so, the Seahawks must win their first round district tournament contest this Friday night. The team’s first round opponent was yet to be determined going into this week’s action. South Lakes, prior to Tuesday’s regular season finale against Jefferson, was 2-4 in district play.
A year ago, South Lakes saw its season end with a first round district tournament loss to Jefferson, a setback that ended the Seahawks’ bid for a region tournament seeding and also ended their hopes of finishing .500 or better.
South Lakes has had outstanding seasons this spring from senior captains Ed Reed, Tyler Harned, Will Johnson and Alex Golembieski, a foursome that has played at a high caliber on the field and proven to be solid team leaders as well.
Reed, a defenseman and third-year team captain, will play lacrosse at Gettysburg College next year.
Harned, one of the better midfielders in the region, at times has been asked to play a variety of other positions this spring as a result of injuries to other players. He has played exceptional lacrosse whatever position he has been at.
"He’s probably the smartest player I’ve ever coached," said Blamey, of Reed. "He always knows where to be."
Meanwhile, Johnson, whom Blamey calls his "Iron Horse midfielder," is one of the fastest players around. He has emerged into a true scoring threat this season.
Blamey, the Seahawks’ sixth year coach, said his team has also received a stellar season from Golembieski, a midfielder who has won 65 percent of his face-offs.
"That’s one of the best [percentages] in the region," said Blamey. "He’s allowed us to possess the ball."
<b>BLAMEY</b> said his team struggled a bit following the recent spring break but has played better of late. He’s hoping South Lakes carries its current high level of play into the postseason. South Lakes’ wins this season have come over Wakefield, McLean, Marshall, Dominion and Yorktown.
On Saturday at the Live, Laugh, Love benefit, South Lakes defeated Dominion, 6-4, and Yorktown, 7-3. The latter game was halted midway through the third quarter as a result of a lightning storm that hit the area.
"We went into the day saying, ‘This is a day about our seniors,’" said Blamey. "The Dominion game was a tough one. After that win, I said, ‘All right guys, the day’s [work] is half over.’"
South Lakes, throughout the season, has worn the initials, "JA," on its helmets in memory of former teammate Josh Anderson, who died earlier this spring. Anderson played a defender position.
"It’s been an emotional year," said Blamey.
"Earlier in the year, the guys lost a teammate. The team has had its ups and downs but they’ve pulled together."