Going into the spring break week, the Langley Saxons boys' lacrosse team was carrying a solid 4-1 record and rounding into good midseason form. Coach Earl Brewer's team, which a year ago captured its second straight Virginia State tournament title, was competing at this week's West Springfield High Spring Break Tournament. When school resumes next week, the Saxons will get back into the swing of their Liberty District schedule with a road game at cross-town rival McLean High on Thursday, April 28.
Langley opened the season up with a contest versus private school opponent Georgetown Prep, a traditionally strong team across the metropolitan area and a member of the Interstate Athletic Conference. Prep, playing at home on March 18, defeated Langley, 12-3.
The Saxons came back strong, however, as they faced - and defeated - four district opponents over the next 10 days, beginning with a 10-6 road win in Vienna over Madison High, 10-6, on March 25. That was followed by another road win, this time in Ashburn, three days later - a 10-4 triumph at Stone Bridge.
Next, on April 1, Langley traveled to nearby Marshall High and won convincingly, 18-1, to improve its record to 3-1. Three days later, the Saxons opened their home schedule with another dominating showing, resulting in a 16-1 victory over the Fairfax Rebels on April 4.
<b>LANGLEY HAS EMERGED</b> into a program with high expectations after capturing state crowns the past two years. In 2009, the Saxons bested Northern Region opponent Chantilly in overtime to win its first-ever state championship. Last year, Langley experienced an emotional postseason in which it edged Madison, 10-9, in the Liberty District tournament finals before going on to lose in the Northern Region title game to Robinson in overtime. Despite the region finals loss, Langley still qualified for states. There, Brewer's squad regrouped and made a sensational tournament showing. After winning a down-to-the-wire overtime affair over Salem High of Virginia Beach, 13-12, in a quarterfinals contest, the Saxons met a determined region foe, W.T. Woodson, in the semifinals. In a defensive-dominated affair, the Saxons emerged as 7-5 victors to qualify for another state finals contest. In the championship game, played at Westfield High School, Langley defeated Loudoun Valley out of the Northwestern Region in convincing fashion, 12-5, successfully defending its previous year's title.
Will the upcoming postseason hold similar golden moments for Langley later this spring? Hard to tell, but the Saxons will certainly give it their best shot.
<b>THE MCLEAN HIGHLANDERS</b>, meanwhile, have struggled mightily to win games in recent years. Following three-win seasons in both 2008 and 2009, the Highlanders dipped to a one-victory season last year. But the team, under veteran head coach Jake Bullock, has turned things around this spring and put together a solid first half of the season with a 4-5 record.
McLean opened the season on March 15 with an 11-6 road win at non-district opponent Falls Church High. Following the win over the Jaguars, McLean went through a tough stretch of three straight losses over a nine-day period from March 17-25 - setbacks at Yorktown, 13-4, on March 17; at district opponent Jefferson, 11-7, on March 21; and home to district rival Stone Bridge, 12-4, on March 25.
The Highlanders earned their second win of the season on March 29 at West Potomac High, 16-2, to snap the three-game winless streak. But a 12-5 district home loss to South Lakes, one of the most improved teams in the state over the past two years, on April 4, followed by a tough 13-11 district defeat at district opponent Marshall on April 7 had McLean staring at a frustrating 2-5 record.
But the Highlanders then won consecutive games - an 8-6 district home win over Fairfax last Thursday, April 14, followed by an 11-10 triumph at non-district opponent Centreville the following day.
The two recent, close game wins have the Highlanders at 4-5 going into tough, upcoming district home games versus Madison next Monday, April 25, and Langley next Thursday, April 28. McLean would love nothing more than to be playing at its best at district tournament time where a first round win would qualify the Highlanders for the 16-team region playoff field.