Langley goalkeeper Joshua Lupas catches the ball near teammate Rhys Howard (6) and T.C. Williams’ Alex Mansaray (9) during the Saxons’ 1-0 win in the region quarterfinals on May 24.
Photo by Louise Krafft.
Alexandria The Langley boys’ soccer team fought an uphill battle against T.C. Williams and the Titans’ spirited home crowd during the regional quarterfinals on May 24. But thanks to the defense of Rhys Howard and a goal from striker Justin Galiani, the Saxons found a way to advance.
In an effort head coach Bo Amato referred to as "smash and grab," Galiani’s header in the 61st minute lifted Langley to a 1-0 victory at T.C. Williams High School. The Saxons didn’t have many chances, but they capitalized on one midway through the second half to improve to 14-3-1.
"They say there’s an expression, ‘Good teams find a way to win,’" Amato said. "I don’t know if we’re good, but we find a way to win. I’m hard on the kids, but I have to praise the lads because they find ways to get results, even when maybe we shouldn’t."
Amato spoke highly of Howard’s effort as the 6-foot-4 senior helped hold T.C. Williams scoreless. Goalkeeper Joshua Lupas finished with 10 saves. At the other end, Galiani, a 6-foot-3 junior, scored the game’s lone goal on an assist from Oliver De Their.
"They say there’s an expression, ‘Good teams find a way to win.’ I don’t know if we’re good, but we find a way to win. I’m hard on the kids, but I have to praise the lads because they find ways to get results, even when maybe we shouldn’t."
— Langley boys’ soccer coach Bo Amato
"It’s a great feeling knowing you’re through, on to the next round," Galiani said. "Every game in regionals is going to be tough, so we know there are no gimmie games and today we pulled a tough one out. Soccer is always a game like that. There’s plenty of times where we had more chances and lost games. Today, we finished ours and made the saves when we needed to. It’s just one of those days."
Langley, the No. 2 seed from the Liberty District, defeated Chantilly, 6-2, in the opening round on May 22. After defeating T.C. Williams, the Patriot District champion, the Saxons will host Robinson in the semifinals at 7 p.m. on Wednesday, May 30. Galiani said the Saxons are motivated to avenge last season’s loss to Lake Braddock in the region final.
"They got one chance at a goal and they [capitalized] on it," T.C. Williams senior Manuel Benites said. "We had a couple chances and we didn’t attack it well. … We’ve had some really tough games and this is up there. They’ve got height, speed and they’re technically sound, too, so they’re all-around hard to play against."