In a game earlier this season, the Langley High boys’ lacrosse team fell behind 5-0 in a non-district outing against Broad Run of Ashburn before rallying to win.
Earlier this week, when Langley learned it would be playing the same Broad Run team again in a Virginia AAA state semifinals contest, the Saxons realized they would need to start the game much better than they had in the regular season meeting.
Langley did just that, jumping out quickly to a 4-0 lead on its way to a 15-9 victory over the Spartans in a game played Wednesday evening at Westfield High School. With the triumph, the Saxons’ best-ever season continued as head coach Earl Brewer and his squad earned a finals appearance against the Chantilly-Robinson winner this Saturday night at 8 for the state championship.
The Chantilly-Robinson game was called because of weather with Chantilly leading, 5-3, after one half of play. No makeup date has been announced yet.
“We wanted to start out very fast,” Brewer said.
Langley won the early face-offs and thus maintained exclusive possession of the ball as it built a 3-0 lead over the first four minutes of the game. The Saxon goals during that early-game stretch came from Thomas Robinson, Alex Devlin and Ryan Ningard.
Trailing 3-0, Broad Run finally had its first true possession, leading to the team’s first scoring chance -- a sizzling bouncer of a shot from senior midfielder Tim Sanders that was stopped nicely by Saxon goalkeeper Galen Kuney with 7 minutes, 55 seconds remaining in the first quarter. More than a minute later, Langley, back on offense, scored again during a possession where the Saxons methodically worked the ball around. Senior midfielder Matt Cronin got the ball off a pass from Ethan Bailey and scored from close range to make the score 4-0 with 6:28 still showing in the opening quarter.
The game was going exactly how Langley wanted it to go.
“The first time we played them they were up 5-0,” said Ningard, who led the Saxons with five goals on Wednesday. “We knew they were a very good team. We came out tonight and tried to [play them physical] so we wouldn’t get down.”
Langley, which defeated Brook Pointe (Stafford) in a state quarterfinals game last Saturday in front of a huge home crowd, is now 20-1 on the season. Its only loss came at Liberty District opponent Madison, 10-9, in a regular season game on April 20.
Broad Run, with the loss to Langley, finished its best-ever season with the run to the state semifinals. Several of its players were members of the Broad Run football team that captured the state AA title last fall. The Spartans were physical and athletic, with a winning mindset this season.
“We had a lot of senior leadership and guys who wanted to put in extra time during the offseason,” said Spartans coach Dave Forman, whose team captured the Dulles District crown this spring. “We have tremendous athletes this year.”
<b>IT LOOKED</b> as if Wednesday’s game might be a blowout after Langley jumped ahead 4-0, but Broad Run answered instead with three consecutive scores -- two from Sanders ( 3 goals, 3 assists) and one from Kyle Ward (4 goals) -- to get within 4-3 before the end of the first quarter.
“They responded and never let up,” said Brewer, of Broad Run’s response to the early deficit.
Langley led 5-3 after the first quarter. A Spartan goal by Nick Khouri two-and-a-half minutes into the second quarter got Broad Run within 5-4. But Langley’s defense stiffened the remainder of the half and its offense, behind scores from Ningard and Jack Lundeen, got the Saxon advantage up to 7-4 at halftime.
The Saxons, after Broad Run got within 7-5 on a goal by Ward early in the second half, appeared to be gaining control of the game following scores from Ningard and Bailey (4 goals, 2 assists) that gave Langley a 9-5 lead, matching the advantage it had to start the game at 4-0.
But a wrap-around goal off the right side from Andy Londos followed a couple minutes later by a catch-the-ball-and-shoot score from close range from Sanders that was set up by a forward assist pass from Ryan Madigan, got Broad Run within 9-7.
The game was still close later in the third quarter when Broad Run’s Ward scored a goal from eight yards off the right side, thanks to an assist by Madigan, to get the Spartans within 10-8 with 3:47 left in the quarter.
But from that point on, Langley controlled the game, scoring the final three goals of the third quarter to increase its lead to 13-8 and finding the net two more times less than five minutes into the fourth quarter to make the score 15-8. Ningard and Joey Bryne (2 goals) both scored a pair of goals during that crucial Saxon 5-0 scoring run.
The game’s final goal came from Broad Run’s Ward as time expired to end the game.
“They’ve got a couple of great shooters on that team,” said Brewer. “But we managed to keep that two-goal barrier.”
Coach Brewer said the players on the Langley bench fired up the Saxons after Broad Run had crept within 10-8 in the third quarter.
“The guys on the sideline were tired of [Broad Run staying in the game],” said Brewer. “They were saying, `Let’s get going.’ It was like, `OK, [Broad Run] has had their time, now let’s have ours.’”
And over the final 15-plus minutes of the game, Langley did indeed have its time with the 5-1 scoring spurt the rest of the way.
Forman, the Broad Run coach, gave credit to Langley and coach Brewer.
“Coach Brewer is a great guy and an amazing coach,” said Forman. “Earl just had his guys clicking. They possessed the ball twice as long as we did. He’s got a talented squad.”
Brewer, in his 15th year as the Langley head coach, has the Saxons’ program in its first-ever state title game.
“I don’t just feel good for the players, but the school as well,” said Brewer, who credited the Langley student body and fans everywhere with giving his team a huge emotional lift with its support and cheering on of his team.