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Chantilly Boys Rounding Into Top Lacrosse Form

Chargers are set to host a district semifinal game on Monday.

It took a while this season for things to smooth out for the Chantilly High boys’ lacrosse team. The Chargers, coming off of last year’s state finals appearance, entered this spring campaign a much younger squad than the 2009 edition. As a result, the team’s play was disjointed and rough early on. Following a lopsided loss to private school opponent St. Albans at the West Springfield Invitational over spring break week, Chantilly’s record stood at a mundane 3-3.

But since then, the Chargers have steadily improved, learned to better play together, and shown some of their potential by winning six straight to cap off a pretty solid regular season with a 9-3 record. Chantilly closed the regular season schedule with a convincing 13-4 home win over Herndon this past Monday evening on the Chargers’ Senior Night.

“We are playing better lacrosse than we were earlier in the season,” said Chantilly coach Kevin Broderick, whose 2008 Chantilly squad won the state title before last year’s ’09 team made it to the championship tilt where it lost to Langley. “Guys are contributing all the way across the board.”

Chantilly enters this week’s six-team Concorde District tournament as the No. 1 seed and will receive a first round bye. The Chargers will host a semifinals game next Monday evening, May 10 at 7. A win there would advance Chantilly to the following Friday’s finals match on May 14 at 7:30. The championship game will take place at Chantilly.

In Monday’s win over Herndon, nine different Chantilly players scored goals – an indication that the Chargers are clicking offensively and getting lots of players involved.

“We’re passing more and getting good ball movement,” said Broderick.

And there has been a lot of that fundamentally sound, selfless play over the latter part of the season for Chantilly.

“We started the season as a young team and a lot of change,” said the coach. “Fifteen guys from the varsity last year were no longer with us. It took a while for us to jell.”

Over the last six games, Chantilly defeated Oakton, Robinson, Westfield, Centreville, Broad Run and Herndon.

One player who had an exceptionally strong game against the Hornets was senior defenseman Travis Abatemarco, who played a big role in holding down prolific scorer Billy Kelly. Abatemarco, one of 12 Chantilly seniors honored during pre-game ceremonies on Monday, leads the Chargers this season in groundball pickups and caused turnovers.

“If the ball’s on the ground on the defensive end, he’s picking it up and starting the transition,” said Broderick, of Abatemarco’s play. “He’s a fabulous athlete.”

<b>CHANTILLY</b>, over the past five games, has been without attackman/midfielder Brendan Waters, a senior team captain who has been out of action following an emergency appendectomy. Waters, who was leading the Chargers in goals and assists at the time of his health scare, is expected to play in Chantilly’s semifinals game on Monday.

Broderick said Waters, during his recovery period, has gone to team practices and attended games. He has participated in non-contact drills of late and will likely participate in a full practice session this Saturday, according to Broderick.

The coach said team members have stepped up their games in Waters’ on-field absence.

“He’s a key player and leader,” said Broderick. “But [every team] goes through these things.”

Broderick said the Chargers rallied together in their first game without Waters on April 12 - a 9-6 Chantilly home win over Robinson.

” Everybody played a great game and really picked it up,” said Broderick.

Three days later, Chantilly, behind a huge game from senior midfielder Joey Marson (season-high five goals with two assists), edged visiting Westfield, 9-8.

And Chantilly has continued to roll since with lopsided wins over Centreville, 17-3, Broad Run, 7-3 and Herndon.

The Chargers’ have gotten stellar play this season from senior goalie Matt Brandenburg, who had 10 saves in the win over the Hornets.

“He’s done a nice job for us and had a couple point-blank saves [on Monday],” said Broderick. “As he goes, we go.”