The high school spring sports season is now completed with the emotionally-charged postseason tournaments having been completed over the past couple of weeks. But what a time the past month-plus has been as some of the local teams, competing in their respective district, region and perhaps even state playoffs, gave their fans thrills in their quest to win championships as the school year was about to end.
South County baseball enjoyed a spring season that will be difficult to ever top. Under head coach Mark Luther, the Stallions went undefeated during the regular season, then continued their winning ways during the postseason by capturing both the Patriot District and Northern Region crowns, both title game victories coming over talented Lake Braddock. They then went on to win their first two games at the state AAA playoffs, including a dramatic 12-11 quarterfinals home win over Nansemond River (Suffolk), to reach the state championship game. There, in a game played at Westfield High, South County lost to perennial state power Great Bridge High of Chesapeake, 5-3. The Stallions finished with a wondrous 28-1 overall record.
Senior catcher Mike Perez, who blasted three home runs and a game-winning, walk-off double in the win over Nansemond River, was the heart and soul of the Stallions, while pitchers Evan Beal and Tyler Frazier were spectacular on the mound.
<b>THE HAYFIELD GIRLS</b> softball team, under veteran head coach Ron Giovannucci, dominated play within the National District during the regular season. Their first district setback came in the district tournament semifinals to longtime rival Mount Vernon, who edged the Hawks 2-1.
The loss to the Majors was just the second of the season for Hayfield, who’s only regular season setback had come to eventual Northern Region champion Westfield, 6-0, in their fourth game of the season. Following the disappointing district playoff loss to Mount Vernon, Hayfield defeated Robinson, annually one of the top teams in the region, by a 5-1 score in a first round game of the 16-team regionals. That put Hayfield into the quarterfinals over Memorial Day weekend where the Hawks lost to defending state champion McLean.
Overall, Hayfield finished with an outstanding 20-3-1 season (The tie came against Oakton during a spring break game). Not surprisingly, Hayfield received a strong share of postseason honors, highlighted by senior team MVP Sam Perry-Shifflett (catcher) being named National District Player of the Year as well as earning First Team All-Region honors. Also for the Hawks, junior pitcher Amber Fowler was honored as the District Pitcher of the Year. Other players to earn postseason honors included: sophomore first baseman/pitcher Taylor Neuhart (Coach’s Award, All-District and All-Region Tournament teams); sophomore outfielder Katelyn Thorne (First Team All-District); sophomore second baseman Taryn McElhenny (Hayfield Most Improved Award, Second Team All-District); senior outfielder Angela Sudik (Don Stah Award, Second Team All-District); and senior outfielder Jessie Reynolds and freshman third baseman Brittany Creamer, both Second Team All-District.
<b>IN BOYS’ SOCCER,</b> Lake Braddock began the season back in mid-March and on into early April winning just two of their first five games, including a 1-1 tie with South County. But the Bruins settled and got on a roll, winning nine of their next 10 games, the final two victories of that stretch coming in the first two games of the Patriot District tournament, and making it quite known they were a region force to be reckoned with along with such other teams as West Springfield, Langley, McLean, Washington-Lee, and Oakton.
Lake Braddock came back to earth in the district tournament finals where it lost to West Springfield, 2-1. But coach Jo Soos’ squad put the setback behind quickly and, at regionals, won four straight games to capture the region crown. Region playoff wins came over Madison, 2-0, Oakton, 2-0, Washington-Lee, 3-2 in overtime, and, in the finals at Westfield, a 2-1 triumph over the Langley Saxons.
The Bruins had numerous playoff heroes, but the biggest had to be senior forward Matt Fraedrich, who caught the scoring bug after having scored just a couple of regular season goals. During the postseason, including two games at states, Fraedrich went on to score eight goals over 11 games. His goal with just under 12 minutes remaining in the region finals at Madison High School broke a 1-1 tie with Langley and proved to be the game-winner. Bruins’ senior midfielder Elhadji Diouf had scored his team’s first goal earlier in the second half to tie the score at 1-1.
Lake Braddock went on to win a game at the state playoffs, a 2-0 quarterfinals home win over Indian River (Chesapeake) before seeing its season end with a 2-1 loss to Deep Run in a state semifinals game at Westfield, a loss that was intensified by some controversial calls and a postgame skirmish.
Nonetheless, while the Bruins’ run towards a state finals appearance fell short, it was an overall fantastic year for the squad.
<b>THE W.T. WOODSGON GIRLS’</b> soccer team proved to be a region force and put together the program’s best season since 2004 when that year’s Cavaliers won both region and state championships.
Woodson, which lost just one game during the regular season (to Robinson, 1-0), was playing at or near its best by postseason time, especially on defense. The Cavaliers, under head coach Warren Williams, reached the district tournament semifinals but lost there to South County, 2-0, in the contest played at Lee High.
But the team came back to win four games at the region tournament, including the finals win over McLean, 1-0, at Madison High School. The Cavaliers’ defense was simply relentless at regionals, allowing no goals throughout the four wins (victories over Madison, 3-0; Oakton, 1-0; Chantilly, 3-0; and the Liberty District champion Highlanders of McLean).
In the semifinals win over Chantilly, the Cavaliers scored all three of their goals after halftime, the scores coming from senior Erin Havard, junior Elizabeth Gaski, and freshmen Teresa Fruchterman. Goalie Marlee Stynchula, throughout the region playoffs, was spectacular in the net.
In the finals win over McLean, Woodson got an early goal from Havard and its defense held the Highlanders scoreless the rest of the way in the 1-0 win. McLean put several strong offensive rushes on the Cavaliers’ defense late in the contest but could not break through. Woodson defeated a McLean team that would ultimately go on to win the state title.
Woodson (16-3-3) saw its season end with a first round state tournament playoff loss to Cox High of Virginia Beach in overtime.
Woodson senior midfielder Danielle King, at season’s end, was named the Northern Region Player of the Year.