A championship game day which almost exclusively belonged to Langley High lacrosse teams last Wednesday evening, May 26 turned into an opportunity lost when the Saxon boys, just a couple hours after the Langley girls had earned their first-ever Northern Region title crown, could not hold onto a late lead in their region finals game and lost to Robinson.
It was a grand try for the Langley boys, who were aspiring to capture their second straight region crown in the nightcap contest of a girls’-boys’ region championship double-header evening at South County High School in Lorton. The Saxons, leading by a couple of goals and with possession of the ball with just under three minutes remaining in regulation, ultimately lost to the Rams, 11-10, in overtime.
Earlier, in the evening’s first game, the Langley girls fought off a talented, determined W.T. Woodson team on way to a 13-11 finals triumph.
Both Langley teams will next compete at the Virginia state tournament, set to begin later this week.
The Langley girls (16-3), under head coach Richard DeSomma, led Woodson in the finals game by as many as six goals in the first half and were up by five scores with 11 minutes remaining in the latter half. But the Saxons never could entirely shake the scrappy Cavaliers and could not truly exhale in relief until the game’s final seconds.
But what a win it was for Langley, which two weeks earlier had captured the Liberty District crown with a title game triumph over Madison before sweeping four straight region playoff games to garner its second championship this postseason.
“It’s so exciting, everyone stepped it up,” said Langley midfielder Margo Swomley. “Our coaches are fantastic. Woodson was tough but we played as a team.”
Swomley, a sophomore transfer student from Colorado who earned Second Team All-Region recognition this spring, had to sit out the title game as a result of a knee injury that had occurred four days earlier during tryouts for an underclassman All-American team. But the 10th grader, who made such a positive impact on her new team throughout the season, could not have been more thrilled for her Saxon teammates following the win over Woodson.
“We have great leadership on this team,” she said.
Langley had four players with multiple goals in the win. Sophomore midfielder Nicky Pritchett led the way for the Saxons with five goals. Torrie Zarella, a junior attack, scored four for the winners while Saxon players Elspeth McGarry, a senior midfielder, and Anna Helmer, a sophomore midfielder, both contributed two.
Earning the win in the net for Langley was senior goalie Mary Riley Pembroke.
Woodson, which at one point had trailed 8-2 during the latter stages of the first half, got within striking distance at 13-11 when Rachel Obregon (team-leading 3 goals) scored on the move from eight yards out with 4 minutes, 44 seconds left in the second half.
Then, about a minute later, Woodson’s Taylor Scott picked up a loose ball, maneuvered towards the Saxon goal area and scored what looked to be another Cavalier goal. But a penalty nullified the score and a Woodson player was issued a yellow card. Woodson, which would have been within one goal of Langley had the score stood, never found the net again as Langley, over most of the remaining time, effectively held onto the ball and won the game.
“It was a big, big turnaround,” said Pembroke, the Saxon goal tender, of the disallowed Woodson goal.
Pembroke, an Honorable Mention All-Region selection this spring, could not have been happier for her teammates in winning the championship game.
“We play real well as a team,” she said. “Woodson had a great game but we came out big in the end.”
Langley reached the title game with wins over Edison, Oakton and Annandale. Woodson, the top seed from the Patriot District, made it to the finals with victories over Robinson, Stone Bridge and Madison.
Woodson and head coach Meaghan O’Leary are looking forward to states.
“It is tough to loss such a big game, and to come very close to winning,” said O’Leary, of the finals loss to the Saxons. “But getting to the regional finals game is a great accomplishment for our team. We will learn from our loss and get ready for the state tournament.”
<b>THE LANGLEY BOYS</b> looked poised to win their second straight region title following a close-range, fastbreak goal off the left side by sophomore attack Sean Ahearn - the assist coming off a pass from teammate Jack Curry. The transition score, which came about following a nifty save on the other end of the field by Langley goalie Andrew Spivey, gave the Saxons a 10-8 lead with 4 minutes, 37 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter of their region title game versus Robinson. While the contest was still far from over at that point, the Saxons had positioned themselves nicely for a win.
Their chances looked even better a few minutes later when senior midfielder Bryan Clubb picked up a loose ball with 3:10 showing. That was followed by a Langley timeout with 2:45 left to play.
But Langley could not hold off Robinson, which in the moments following the timeout gained possession of the ball before getting a crucial goal from junior midfielder Tom Petrocci - a 12-yard bouncer shot from the left corner - with 1:59 left to get the Rams within 10-9.
Later, Petrocci (game-high 5 goals, 4 after halftime) came up big again, this time in the closing seconds of regulation when, in the most important Robinson possession of the game and perhaps the season, he moved right and threw in a shot from nine yards out for the equalizer with 18 seconds left.
The Rams, to a man, were thrilled to be heading into overtime. The Langley team, meanwhile, was a bit stunned.
“After we gave up that goal, it felt like we were losing even though it was tied,” said Langley senior Ethan Bailey, a First Team All-Region attack player this spring who could not play in the title game due to a concussion he had received two days earlier in Langley’s semifinals win over Westfield. “They had the momentum.”
It was late in the four minute overtime session that Robinson scored and won the game when Rams’ senior attackman Thurmond Shaw (3 goals), on a straight-on shot from 10 yards out, found the top of the net, igniting a spontaneous, joyful on-field Robinson celebration.
“I thought Robinson played real well and we played well,” said Bailey, who viewed the entire game from the Saxons’ sideline. “We had a lead in the fourth.”
Ahearn led Langley with four goals in the game, while Jack Sandusky had two. Also finding the net for the Saxons were Jack Lundeen, Ryan Miller, Thomas Robinson and Luke Saizer. The Rams, along with the big games from Petrocci and Shaw, received two goals from Jason Stein and one from Connor Ruddy. Senior goalie Keenan Kevan earned the win in net.
Langley, the defending state champions, will be looking to defend that crown when it begins state tournament play later this week.
“This year, as opposed to last year, we’re always getting teams’ best efforts,” said Bailey. “Teams always know they’re playing the state champs and they are gunning for us harder.”