It’s hardly a secret that the Chantilly girls’ lacrosse team has struggled in title games over the past few years. In five district, region or state final appearances during the past two seasons, coach Michele Gates’ team has come up empty-handed and heartbroken every time.
But on Sunday evening for this year’s Virginia AAA state final at Westfield High School, the Chargers made sure that history didn’t repeat itself, and it didn’t take long for them to do it.
Chantilly (21-2) sprinted out to a 7-0 lead and never looked back, claiming its first-ever state title with a 13-4 drubbing of Robinson. The win avenged late-game letdowns against the Rams in this year’s Concorde District and Northern Region finals.
“Those five games just all came together into one, and we said that this has to happen,” said senior midfielder Brittney Griel, who led the Chargers with five goals and an assist. “We didn’t really think about the five championships, but in the back of our heads that was always something that’s been pushing us.”
“All the other ones don’t matter now," said Gates.
In the past two years, Chantilly has been a regular season dynamo, winning every one of its games during that time period. However, the postseason has been unkind to the Chargers. Though they typically tore through tournaments, that final step tended to cause a few problems, as evidenced by three big-game losses to Robinson and two to Oakton in 2008 and 2009 combined.
<b>IT TOOK</b> senior attack Erin Robertson only 45 seconds to take a feed from Griel and convert from the right side of Robinson goalkeeper Kelsey Zinck. Twenty seconds later, Robertson scored again, this time on a free-position shot.
Then Griel went to work. After scoring once at 21:23, Griel whipped a left-handed bullet past Zinck, prompting a Robinson timeout.
“I think Chantilly really wanted this game, and I think that they made some adjustments to us and were able to capitalize on some really good opportunities,” said Robinson coach Alison Neun, whose squad wrapped up its year at 17-4.
Chantilly didn’t quit there. Katie Stillwell, who had eight goals and two assists during her team’s 14-9 state semifinal win over Loudoun Valley, scored next. Stillwell’s only goal of the game was followed by a hookup between Jessica Dennis and Liz Dunwoody (goal, assist) to give the Chargers a 6-0 advantage.
Griel would score her third of the game, this time at 14:26, before Robinson’s Courtney Coleman (two goals) finally put the Rams on the board with 12:27 left in the first half. But Robinson’s uptick in momentum would be short-lived. Chantilly continued to control draw after draw, while Lisa Comerford and Kylie Chaplin (two goals) each scored before halftime for a 9-1 Chargers’ advantage.
In the second, Griel tallied twice more and Dunwoody scored, pushing the outcome out of reach. Of course Griel, who had a painfully close front seat during Chantilly’s late-game meltdowns earlier this season, wasn’t entirely convinced it was time to relax.
“I did not let up until that buzzer went off,” she said. “We’ve been up on Robinson by seven, and they’ve come back. They’ve been up seven, and we’ve come back. They’re a great team and not until that last minute or so was it realistic that we were gonna win.”
24:15 (1) -- C: Robertson from Griel (Chantilly, 1-0)
22:55 (1) -- C: Robertson (Chantilly, 2-0)
21:23 (1) -- C: Griel (Chantilly, 3-0)
20:19 (1) -- C: Griel (Chantilly, 4-0)
19:33 (1) -- C: Stillwell (Chantilly, 5-0)
16:15 (1) -- C: Dennis from Dunwoody (Chantilly, 6-0)
14:26 (1) -- C: Griel (Chantilly, 7-0)
12:27 (1) -- R: Coleman (Chantilly, 7-1)
8:24 (1) -- C: Chaplin (Chantilly, 8-1)
2:13 (1) -- C: Comerford (Chantilly, 9-1)
24:22 (2) -- C: Griel (Chantilly, 10-1)
13:22 (2) -- C: Dunwoody (Chantilly, 11-1)
9:00 (2) -- C: Griel (Chantilly, 12-1)
7:45 (2) -- R: Barron (Chantilly, 12-2)
6:22 (2) -- C: Chaplin (Chantilly, 13-2)
3:13 (2) -- R: Coleman (Chantilly, 13-3)
:29.7 (2) -- R: McHugh (Chantilly, 13-4)