For one team, it was new territory, for the other, it was pretty much the norm. That was the case in regards to Tuesday evening’s Northern Region boys’ lacrosse tournament semifinals meeting between West Springfield and Chantilly High Schools.
The two teams were coming at things from entirely different perspectives when they met in the postseason contest played at Oakton High School. At stake was a chance to advance to Thursday’s finals and earn an automatic bid into the upcoming state tournament.
As it turned out, the more playoff seasoned Chantilly squad, coached by Kevin Broderick, controlled a majority of the gorgeous spring night’s action and won, 14-7.
“Our goal is to kind of keep our [winning] tradition going,” said Chantilly senior attackman/midfielder Devon Westerman, of a Chargers’ program which has known vast postseason success in recent years. “Every year, we want to improve on the year before.”
Three years ago in 2008, Chantilly captured the state title. A year later in 2009, the Chargers made it back to the state championship game only to lose to Langley.
Last year, the team fell to Langley in the region quarterfinals and did not make states. Thus, this season, the Chargers were hungry to re-emerge as a region force.
They have certainly done so. Chantilly won its first nine games this spring before losing to Langley at the West Springfield Spring Break Tournament. The Chargers went on to finish the regular season 13-1, then won both its games at the Concorde District tournament, including an 8-5 triumph over Robinson in the championship. At regionals, the team won contests over both Mount Vernon and W.T. Woodson to advance to Tuesday’s semis meeting against the Spartans.
“We know what it’s like to lose, so we have something to play for [this postseason],” said Westerman, referring back to last year’s season-ending setback to Langley at regionals.
Chantilly (18-1) is now set to meet Annandale, an upset winner over Langley in Tuesday’s second semifinals tilt at Oakton, for the region crown on Thursday of this week, May 26 at Robinson.
<b>WEST SPRINGFIELD</b>, meanwhile, had never before in program history reached the region tournament semifinals before this season. The Spartans (11-7), under third year head coach Scott Settar, qualified for the 16-team regionals by defeating South County, 17-5, in a first round Patriot District Tournament game played on the Spartans’ home field on May 6. They lost their next game, however, to Woodson, 8-7, in the semifinals three days later.
West Springfield came back strong at regions with wins over Madison and Yorktown to reach the semifinals. Although the Spartans lost to Chantilly, they still have hopes of making the state tournament if they can get past Langley in the region third place consolation game, which was scheduled to be played on Thursday at Oakton.
“It’s disappointing to lose [to Chantilly] and not have a chance to play for the region [title], but we still have a chance to make it to states,” said Settar.
This marks the second straight year in which West Springfield has lost to Chantilly at regionals. A year ago, the Spartans saw their season end with a first round region playoff loss to the Chargers.
<b>CHANTILLY</b>, in Tuesday’s win over the Spartans, controlled the ball a majority of the game and vastly outshot its opponent.
“Going into the game we knew we had to stop Chantilly in transition,” said Settar. “We gave them too many possessions which you can’t do against a good team like Chantilly.”
Chantilly senior midfielder Jared Golden did a good job winning a majority of his face-offs. He credited the Chargers’ defense with stepping up.
“Our defense has played great the past four or five games,” said Golden.
The determined West Springfield defense also played well, particularly throughout the first half when Chantilly continuously made strong rushes towards the net. Spartans’ senior goalie Kevin Young made several exceptional saves.
The Chargers never trailed. They scored within the game’s first minute on a rebound follow-up goal by junior attack Luke Bowers (3 goals on the night) and led 2-0 after one quarter. At halftime, the Chargers held a 5-1 advantage. They then effectively put things away by scoring the first four goals of the third quarter to build a 9-1 lead. West Springfield sophomore attack Tyler Sutter scored from eight yards out with 15 seconds remaining in the third quarter to get the Spartans within 9-2 going into the fourth.
With the game’s outcome pretty much decided, the contest opened up in the final quarter with both teams scoring five goals.
“We were just focused,” said Chantilly’s Westerman, of his team’s well-played game. “We knew our strengths against their weaknesses. We are a pretty deep team and outran them.”
Chantilly senior goalie Eric Simmons played a solid game and earned the win in net for the Chargers.
Chantilly’s top scorers were Bowers and senior Craig Penman, both with three goals. Sophomore attack Bill Leslie and junior attack Daniel DeCenzo both scored twice.
Single goals came from Westerman (1 goal, 1 assist), Cole Fitzgerald (1 and 1), Zach Pereira (1 and 1), and Jimmy Hicks (1 goal). Kyle O’Connor had three assists. For West Springfield, senior midfielder Lee Gleason and senior attack Zach Hart (2 assists) both had two goals. Also tallying scores for the Spartans were Colin Stephenson, Tyker Sutter, and Jake Flewellyn.