Players embraced one another and let loose joyous shouts with decibel levels usually reserved for postseason victory. The start of the Patriot District Tournament was more than a week away, but that didn't matter to the West Potomac girls lacrosse team, which on Tuesday celebrated snapping a lengthy losing streak to South County.
"Everyone was giving hugs," West Potomac senior Margaret Kerr said. "It's like they won a championship or something."
The Wolverines traveled to Lorton and defeated the Stallions on their senior night, 14-12. The ensuing reaction by West Potomac was the product of teamwork and a group of athletes improving over a span of several seasons.
"I think we played so well," Kerr said. "We've never beaten South County ever in our lives so this is a really big win for us. ... My freshman year we were awful. We had one sub on varsity. All these girls now were freshmen then and we had one senior. I think coming up and having that experience with everyone, we've all gotten better and it shows.
"We beat South County tonight, that's the biggest [win] that we've had."
Twice West Potomac built a four-goal lead only to watch South County come back to tie the score. The Wolverines scored the game's first four goals, but the Stallions responded with four straight. West Potomac opened an 11-7 lead with less than 15 minutes remaining in the second half, but South County tied the score at 11-11 with less than six minutes to play. But after a Stallions timeout with 5:21 remaining, West Potomac freshman Kendall Cunningham scored her fifth and final goal to give the Wolverines a lead they wouldn't relinquish.
"When they came back, we were second-guessing ourselves," Cunningham said. "But we pulled it together, had a talk and we were ready to play."
Cunningham's five goals were a game high. Senior attack Margaret Corum scored three goals, Kerr added two, and senior defender Adrianne Hampton, senior midfielder Kelsey Donavan and junior attacks Emily Hauptle and Annmarie Wood each had one.
Third-year West Potomac head coach Lori Botha said talent hasn't been a problem for the Wolverines, but trying to play as a unit has hindered the team.
Tuesday's performance was a different story.
"This was the best game of the season by far because they played as a team," said Botha, who has coached some of the Wolverines for nearly a decade.. "... They haven't beat South County in many years, so it was sort of a personal challenge for them. Individually, we have these amazing athletes, but all season long we've been waiting for it to click. ... It was just all about confidence. Tonight, their attitude was just fantastic, it was phenomenal. They had the confidence and it was fun to watch. ...
"This was the most beautiful game they have ever played. It really looked beautiful."
West Potomac improved to 5-3, including 2-2 in the district. The Wolverines will close the regular season with home gamest against T.C. Williams (April 28) and Woodson (April 30) and a road game against Annandale (May 2). The district tournament begins on May 6.