A four-goal game for Langley attackman Ethan Bailey, along with a hat-trick from Ryan Ningard and a grudging defense, paced the industrious Saxons to a 14-4 state tournament quarterfinals win over the Blackhawks of Brooke Point High School (Stafford) this past Saturday at Langley.
In all, seven Saxons registered goals in an encounter that matched the top-seeded Northern Region boys lacrosse champions from Langley with the Northwest Region third-seed squad from Stafford.
In addition to Bailey and Ningard, attackman Kyle Maida, middies Joey Byrne and Charlie Scharfen, and defenders Brendan Dwyer and Thomas Robinson contributed goals in what was the tenth time this season at least seven Saxons have scored in a game.
Brook Point attackmen Johnny Daugherty and Alan Jones, as well as middies Seth Hodgen and Paul Hummer, each provided a goal for the Blackhawks, which ended their prosperous season with a respectable 14-7 record. Brooke Point is a member of the Northwest Region.
Langley (19-1), with the first round win, was scheduled to play in a state semifinals game on Wednesday evening of this week against Broad Run (16-3), a first round winner over Loudoun Valley (17-3) last Saturday. The Spartans are members of the Dulles District in Loudoun County.
The Saxons faced the Spartans of Broad Run previously this year in the West Springfield Spring Break tournament, with Langley earning a 12-7 victory in the early April battle.
<b>THE SAXONS</b> did not wait long to serve notice of their intentions to command the afternoon engagement against Brook Point, when longstickman Dwyer delivered his first goal of the season less than a minute from the opening face-off. The early warning sign for the visitors grew out of the first scoring bid of the contest, from Brooke Point, which was saved comfortably by Langley goalie Galen Kuney. Kuney then promptly cleared the ball to Dwyer, stationed at the mid line, from where the defender ventured into attack and grabbed the quick score for the hosts.
Langley forged a 5-2 advantage by the end of the first quarter then largely closed out negotiations for the win during a second quarter that saw the Saxons doubling their goal production while shutting out the Blackhawks. The five-goal burst was completed by a second longpole score, this from Robinson, who exploited a gap in the Brooke Point defensive line to fire in an unassisted goal, getting his side eight goals to the good going into the halftime break.
Brooke Point did add single goals early in the third and fourth quarters, but Langley replied with a pair later in each quarter and a stifling defense to secure the winning position.
Saxon netminder Kuney was seldom bothered with Blackhawk shooting efforts but was active in initiating fast breaks with two such counter attacks leading to Langley scores, including Dwyer’s game-opener. Brooke Point goalie Marc Wilander was by far the busier of the goalies, and while he did well on several occasions coming up with fine saves, he had to deal with the Saxons enjoying just too many more promising, close-in looks at goal than the Blackhawk netminder would have liked his defenders to permit.
Brooke Point did offer a swift reply in the early going when Hummer maneuvered from behind the cage and took advantage of his marker, Saxons’ Alex Devlin, slipping in back of the net. The brief moment of freedom allowed the Blackhawk sophomore to gain favorable shooting position for firing in past Kuney to tie the score at one apiece only 85 seconds after Dwyer had scored.
But just a minute later, Bailey snapped in a shot from 12 yards to restore the lead for Langley. Then, just after the ensuing face-off when Kuney saved a Blackhawk shot, the Saxon goalie worked another quick transition, this time through his brother, senior middie Jeremy Kuney, who in turn set up Bailey for the junior attacker’s second goal of the game less than 4 minutes into the affair.
Ningard delighted the home fans with a workmanlike goal near the halfway point of the opening quarter. The senior attackman tracked back into defensive duties when it appeared the Blackhawks were mounting a fast break assault. Ningard was rewarded for his hustle when he created a turnover deep in the Langley defensive zone, gained possession and returned to the attack using open space to his advantage to drive home an unassisted goal at the end of a long sprint.
Bailey made an initial bid for completing a first-quarter hat-trick with about 4 minutes left in the quarter, but his shot got no closer to goal than Wilander’s goalie mask, from which the ball deflected well away from danger outside of the Blackhawk goalie’s crease area.
Bailey did get his third at the 2:25 mark when Wilander made a partial save on the Langley attacker’s shot but then failed to get the handle on the ball, which slipped through his grasp and settled into the net for the Saxon’s fifth goal of the game.
Jones pulled one back for Brooke Point with just under 2 minutes remaining in the quarter to give the Blackhawks some encouragement. The sophomore attacker snuck a low-level shot past Kuney from close range to narrow his team’s deficit to 5-2.
<b>THE SECOND QUARTER</b>, at its start, brought an illegal stick violation, and the dreaded 3-minute, non-releasable penalty for the trailing visitors. The Brooke Point main defensive corps of Kevin McGlade, Alex Williams and Gerald Gooden did manage to limit Langley scoring during its man-down challenge to only a single goal by Bailey, one launched from close range after a patient build-up with the extra man. But this was just the beginning of a five-goal, second-quarter offensive from the hosts that saw Ningard scoring off of an assisting pass by Bailey about 3 minutes after the penalty had expired, then Maida supplying a pair within 52 seconds — the first unassisted and the second coming by way of a feed-in pass from middie Jack Curry that found the scorer unguarded three yards out from Wilander’s crease line. Longstickman Robinson then supplied his goal with only 33 seconds left in the first half.
Daugherty got on the board to open second half play, but the Saxons replied with goals by middies Scharfen and Byrne. Scharfen drilled in after snatching an errant clearing pass by a Blackhawk defender under pressure from Langley attackers deep in the Brooke Point defensive zone. The Saxon middie made no mistake when he was allowed to venture closer to goal and blast in with little interference from the tiring Blackhawk defenders.
Byrne then used a bounce shot from about 8 yards to stake Langley to a 12-3 score-line before the end of the third quarter.
The Blackhawks opened the scoring for the final quarter by way of Hodgen, who already had been enjoying a modest edge in face-off play for the afternoon. A feed-in pass from Daugherty found the sophomore middie situated well and clear about 10 yards out to deposit into the net, a relatively seldom event for the face-off specialist middie.
But the Saxons completed the scoring for the day when Byrne furnished his second of the game about 5 minutes into the fourth quarter, and Ningard completed his hat-trick with less than 3 minutes of life remaining to the playoff encounter.