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A Spring To Remember for Chantilly, Centreville Area Teams

Wildcats reach region girls' soccer semifinals; Chantilly boys lacrosse, Westfield softball both capture region crowns.

The high school spring sports season is now concluded 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 Centre View-area 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.

A year ago (spring of 2010), the Centreville High girls' soccer team had one of the best squads in the entire Northern Region. But a first round Concorde District playoff loss to Robinson prevented the Wildcats from qualifying for the 16-team tournament.

Centreville, which played in the ultra strong Concorde, was squeezed out of the region playoffs despite a solid 8-4-2 overall record.

This spring, the Wildcats were not about to be denied a trip to regionals. The team played as if it was on a mission all season long, winning its first nine games and ultimately concluding the regular season 11-1. At the district tournament, Centreville lost a tough 1-0 decision to Oakton in the semifinals. Even so, Centreville was among the top four district finishers and qualified for regionals.

Denied from qualifying for regionals the year before, Centreville was a hungry team this postseason and came out roaring at the 16-team region tourney. The Wildcats defeated both Hayfield and Lake Braddock by identical 3-0 scores to advance to the region semifinals. They were one win away from reaching the region title game and qualifying for the state playoffs.

But in the region ‘Round of Four’ contest versus McLean at Madison High School in Vienna on June 1, Centreville fell behind the red-hot Highlanders by a 4-0 score before the first half was even completed.

The Wildcats played much better thereafter and ultimately went on to lose by a 4-2 score. On several occasions in the second half Centreville made strong rushes on the McLean goal but could not get that one score which would have gotten them within one goal. Sophomore Clara Logsdon scored both of Centreville's goals in the season-ending loss.

For the spring, Centreville, under head coach Gary Malebranche — selected as the Region Coach of the Year — finished with an outstanding 13-3 record.

<b>THE CHANTILLY HIGH</b> girls' softball team experienced a breakthrough spring with a 15-7 record and a trip to the Northern Region tournament.

The Chargers, who had a losing record the season before, became one of the top teams in the Concorde District and a region contender in 2011. Chantilly began the season 6-2 on way to an impressive 13-5 regular season record and a second place finish in the district standings behind Westfield.

At the district tournament, the Chargers, in a semifinals game played at Westfield High, defeated Robinson, 2-0, behind a stellar pitching effort by Alex Sallberg, who allowed just three hits and struck out eight in a complete game victory.

The win over the Rams put Chantilly into the district title game on May 23. Playing on its own home diamond, the Chargers gave perennial power Westfield all it could handle before losing 6-3. The game's highlight for Chantilly was a final inning, two-run home run over the center field fence by senior Rachel Taft.

Four Chantilly players — Taft, Sallberg, Wendy Sloan, and Tori Doherty — were named to the All-District Tournament Team.

Following districts, Chantilly, under head coach Carmen Wise, went on to the 16-team tournament where the Chargers soundly defeated Mount Vernon, 19-1, in a first round game. That put them into the Memorial Day Weekend quarterfinals, hosted by Falls Church High School, and a matchup versus South County, a team which had captured the region title just two years earlier.

The Stallions seemed to be in control of the game with a 5-0 lead. But the Chargers gave their fans hope with a final inning rally, the key hit being a two-run single by senior center fielder Sloan. But in the end, Chantilly fell just short in a 5-4 loss to a South County squad which one week earlier had captured its fifth straight Patriot District tournament title. The Chargers had given South County a strong showing and shown just how far they had come over a year's time.

<b>THE REGION'S TOP</b> girls' softball team this season was Westfield High, which overcame a mid-season injury to clean-up hitting catcher Frankie Martinez, a talented all-around player and one of the Bulldogs' top leaders.

Westfield lost its first regular season Concorde District game early in the season to Robinson, but did not lose another district game the remainder of the regular season and on into the postseason district tournament where the Bulldogs captured the district crown with a win over Chantilly in the finals.

Westfield was a determined team going into the 16-team regional playoffs. The squad, a year earlier, had lost a close second round game to eventual state champion McLean. The Bulldogs believed they should have gone further at regionals in 2010 and were highly motivated to go all the way this season. They did just that, winning four straight region playoff games, all close, over Washington-Lee, 3-2; Woodson, 4-2; Oakton, 4-2; and McLean, 4-3.

The win over McLean came in the region finals at Madison High School on June 3. In that game, sophomore Caitlin Rudy's seventh inning RBI single plated courtesy runner Courtney Mecimore with the winning run. Mecimore was running for teammate Lexi Scoville, who had started off the seventh with a single.

The Bulldogs had beaten the defending state champion Highlanders, avenging the prior year's loss to them at regionals.

Westfield, in the title game win over McLean, received a huge game from senior shortstop Jessica McNamara, who homered and knocked in three runs. The winning pitcher was Keona Gaines, who worked four effective innings of relief.

Westfield, following regionals, lost to Grassfield (Chesapeake), 4-3, in a first round game of the state AAA playoffs. But it was a marvelous season for the Bulldogs, who won 20 games and captured their second region title in four years under head coach Dean Ferington.

<b>IN BOYS' LACROSSE</b>, Chantilly High reached the Virginia state finals for the third time in four years. There, Chantilly went up against Northern Region nemesis Langley, which was the two-time defending state champion.

The Chargers, who earlier during the postseason had captured both the Concorde District and Northern Region tournament titles, could not come up with the same finals game magic at states and lost to Langley, 17-8, in the title game played at Westfield High School.

Chantilly, which had also fallen to the Saxons at the 2009 state finals, finished their remarkable 2011 campaign with a 21-2 record.

Chantilly, which won the state crown back in 2008, lost just one game during this spring's regular season — that coming to Langley, 11-10, in a spring break match. But the Chargers were playing outstanding at the on-start of the playoffs and went on to win the Concorde District tournament with an 8-5 finals win over the Robinson Rams.

Chantilly continued its solid all-around play at regionals with wins over Mount Vernon, Woodson, and West Springfield to reach the finals. There, in a game against Annandale High, the Chargers won a hard-fought 12-11 decision. Following the region title win, Chantilly won state playoff games over both Patrick Henry and Albemarle High to make it to the finals and the meeting with Langley.

Chantilly senior midfielder Devon Westerman earned First Team All-Region accolades. Second Team All-Region Chargers were senior midfielder Jared Golden and junior defenseman Drew Cormode. Junior attack Luke Bowers was named All-Region Honorable Mention.