Chantilly's quest for its second-ever Virginia state boys' lacrosse title fell short when the Chargers lost its state finals contest to Northern Region rival Langley, 17-8, last Saturday night in front of a near-capacity crowd at Westfield High School.
It marked the third time over the last four years in which Chantilly has played in the state championship game. The Chargers, who are coached by Kevin Broderick, won the state title in 2008. In 2009, they lost to Langley in the state finals. And on Saturday, once again, it was Chantilly and Langley meeting in the finals with the Saxons coming away victorious — winning their third consecutive state championship under longtime head coach Earl Brewer.
Chantilly made a remarkable postseason run this spring, capturing both the Concorde District and Northern Region crowns and then advancing to the state title tilt.
The Chargers, facing a Langley team that accounted for their only regular season loss, fell behind early and were never able to recover in Saturday's finals. Langley tallied the game's first five goals on way to the dominating win.
"They played a great game," said Chantilly senior tri-captain Devon Westerman, of the Saxons.
Langley, indeed, played one of its best games of the season. From start to finish, the Saxons seemed to control a majority of the action.
"We've worked hard and come together as a team," said Langley senior attack player Mike Adams, who scored nine goals to lead the three-time champions. "This feels awesome. I knew when we stepped up nobody could beat us. And we definitely stepped up tonight. It wasn't any one individual. It was a team win."
Langley (19-3) started the postseason off with three consecutive wins at the Liberty District tournament, including a finals win over Madison High School on May 12. The Saxons then won their first two games — victories over T.C. Williams and Oakton — at the 16-team Northern Region tournament.
But a semifinals round upset loss to Annandale, 12-8, on May 23 at Oakton High School ended Langley's region title hopes and put them in the uncomfortable third place consolation game versus West Springfield. At stake in the contest with the Spartans, a team experiencing a breakout winning season, was a birth at the eight-team state playoffs. The Saxons, putting away the disappointment of the loss to Annandale, rose to the occasion and handled the scrappy West Springfield squad, 11-7, to advance to states.
"That loss to Annandale definitely motivated us," said Adams. "I think [in the long run] it helped us."
At Battlefield High (Haymarket) in a state quarterfinals round game, Langley pulled out a gritty, 6-5 OT victory on June 3. Then, in a rematch with Annandale five days later at Westfield High, the Saxons avenged their earlier regional playoff loss to the Atoms with an inspiring 10-7 triumph which put the Saxons back into the state championship game for a third straight year.
By that point, Langley, having tasted both good and bad moments during its five-week postseason march, was not about to be denied and handled the Chargers to garner their third consecutive state title.
"It's surreal to win it again," said Langley junior goalie Andrew Spivey.
<b>THREE GOALS WITHIN</b> the first four minutes of play — scores from sophomore midfielder Luke Salzer, junior midfielder Hunter Bentz, and Adams — resulted in an early Chantilly timeout.
The Chargers came back out and got off three good scoring chances, including a wrap-around, close range shot from senior Craig Penman, whose attempt hit metal and bounced away. But Chantilly could not break through into the scoring column.
A short time later, Adams, off an assist from senior attack Jack Sandusky, scored off the right corner from close range to make it 4-0 Langley. Less than a minute after that, Sandusky, on the move, sent a sizzling bouncer into the net from the right wing. That made the score 5-0 with just over five minutes remaining in the first period.
"I think they came into the game [rolling]," said Westerman, of the Saxons' fast start. "We were waiting for things to happen, waiting for someone else to make a play and that hurt us."
Chantilly's Daniel DeCenzo, a junior attack, scored the Chargers' first goal — a quick turnaround liner over his right shoulder off the right side — to make it 5-1 with 4 minutes, 23 seconds remaining in the first quarter.
Langley's Salzer, shortly after a Langley timeout, scored from 18 yards out on a bouncer shot off the left wing to make it 6-1 Saxons, the score going into the second quarter.
"Coming out and leading 5-0, 6-1 and getting that much momentum, that was a great feeling," said Spivey, the Langley goalie who made several stellar stops in the net at the close of the first quarter as Chantilly was trying to gain some life. "I was confident. I had a few saves early in the game and that helped me."
Langley's dominance continued throughout the second quarter as the Saxons scored the first five goals of the 12-minute session to build an 11-1 lead. Adams scored three of his team's goals during that stretch.
Chantilly carried a little momentum into the half following scores from Cole Fitzgerald and Kyle O'Connor but the Chargers still trailed 11-3 at the intermission.
The Langley lead increased to 13-3 over the first five minutes of the third quarter. Chantilly then came up with its best scoring spell of the game, scoring three straight goals — scores from Kyle Louis, Westerman, and Penman — to get the Chargers within 13-6 going into the final quarter.
The Saxons put the game away for good early on in the fourth on consecutive goals by Adams and one from senior midfielder Davis Wagner to make the score 16-6. The final ended up being 17-8.
"We won the little balls, hustled to ground balls, and Spivey played great for us," said Adams, pin-pointing a few keys in his team's win.
Along with Adams' huge scoring game, Langley also got two goals apiece from Bentz, Salzer, and Sandusky.
Chantilly goals came from Cole Fitzgerald, Kyle Louis, DeCenzo, O'Connor, Penman, Westerman and Nico Alcalde.
<b>THE CHARGERS</b> (21-2) had an outstanding season. They lost just one time — to Langley, 11-10 — during a spring break game in the regular season and captured the Concorde District tournament crown with an 8-5 finals win over Robinson on May 12. At regionals, the Chargers reached the finals with wins over Mount Vernon, Woodson, and West Springfield. Then, in the region title game, Chantilly earned a nail-biter 12-11 win over Annandale.
At states, Chantilly won games over Patrick Henry and Albemarle High (Charlottesville) to reach the championship encounter with Langley.
"People didn't believe in us and didn't believe we'd be here [in the state finals]," said Westerman, of a Chantilly squad which had lost a number of solid players to graduation last spring. "But we won our district and the region. Everybody loved everybody out there. We were all brothers out there."