Great Falls Chantilly Charger resilience with a spirited comeback effort fell just short in the end leaving the host Langley Saxons to claim a second Northern Region title in boys lacrosse with an 8-6 triumph in the tournament final on Friday, May 25.
The Saxons looked to have matters well in hand late in the third period, having forged a convincing 7-2 lead on home soil in no small way due to a defensive posture for the evening that had conceded little to the Chantilly offense.
But the Chargers stormed back to reduce the deficit to one goal with almost five minutes remaining in regulation time to jangle nerves along the Langley sideline and among home supporters in the South-side grandstand. Saxon junior Luke Salzer provided the timely relief, however, the lively middie firing in wrap-around fashion past Chantilly goalie Patrick Meehan just past the 2:58 mark of the final period to restore the two-goal lead that held to the final horn.
Both teams had already qualified for the VHSL state playoffs by virtue of their semifinal away wins the previous evening - Langley defeating the Oakton Cougars 18-12 and the Chargers slipping past the W. T. Woodson Cavaliers 7-6 in overtime.
Langley’s win on Friday in the region final gives head coach Earl Brewer’s Saxons (19-2) the first-seed position from the Northern Region for the upcoming state competition, and with that a quarterfinal home game on Saturday, June 2. Langley’s opponent in that game will be the loser of the AA Northern Region final that featured the Dominion Titans (13-6) hosting the Woodgrove Wolverines (14-5). As Northern Region second seed, Chantilly head coach Kevin Broderick will take his squad (16-3) on the road on June 2 to face the winner of the Titan-Wolverine clash.
In the Langley, Chantilly final, the scoring ledger showed balance at two apiece midway through the second quarter when the Liberty District champion Saxons started to impose some authority on the contest, generating a five-goal run that carried over to the second half of play. Two goals from senior attackman Sean Ahearn, with assists from Salzer on the first and senior Josh Sibio on the second, were followed by an unassisted strike from Sibio to give the home side the 5-2 advantage at halftime. The latter goal came out of an interception of a Charger pass by Saxon goalie Andre Spivey during a man-up situation for Chantilly, which ignited the fast-break counter leading to the attacker’s short-handed goal at the other end.
The Saxons grabbed another two early in the second half but not before Sibio hit the pipe and senior middie Clay Rivers, then attacker Mike Adams, each got off attempts that had flags flying for defensive fouls by the Chargers. It was during the attack for the second man-up situation that Langley sophomore J. T. Meyer dispatched past Meehan for the 6-2 lead, off of an assisting pass from Ahearn working behind the cage. Adams then pounced less than a minute later to make it 7-2, the senior taking the set-up pass from Rivers and using a feint move with head-dodge at the crease before flicking in past the goalie for the score.
Meehan, soon after, had more success with the stop on Salzer’s promising shot, followed by a fine point-blank save by the sophomore netminder to deny Adams getting a second goal for the night. Chantilly then was awarded a man advantage for a holding call on the Saxons, and began to apply more consistent pressure on Langley, although senior longpoleman Nick Rifken made the vital intercept of the incoming pass to thwart the attack on Spivey’s goal.
That intervention gave the Saxons only a temporary reprieve, however, as the visitors mounted further assault resulting in senior Luke Bowers punching in late in the third quarter the second of his two goals for the night. Senior Dan DeCenzo was alert to block a Langley clearing pass, recover the groundball and furnish the assisting pass for his attacking line-mate to convert past Spivey. Senior Cole Fitzgerald kept the Saxon netminder busy, getting off shots as time was winding down in the period, but the Chantilly middie’s efforts went wide or were saved by the senior goalie.
Rivers triggered the first shot in the final period but that clanked off of the goal pipe and away from danger to the Chargers, who then renewed their operations in front of the Saxon goal in search of scoring chances. A man-up situation for Chantilly yielded a couple more shots from Fitzgerald - the first going wide and the other saved by Spivey - and ended with junior defender Brad Dotson deploying a stick-check to steal possession from the Chargers.
DeCenzo snapped in for Chantilly’s fourth goal after the attacker saw Spivey turn away his initial shot moments earlier.
Adams had thoughts of getting a second goal when he collected the loose ball at the other end in front of Meehan’s cage but his reaction shot sailed well over the net, followed by a second chance off of a set-up pass from the outside but the result for Adams was the same. Ahearn, Salzer, and Adams again, tested Meehan but none of the shots got through. The Chargers brought the action to the other end and put Spivey to work in front of the net, as well had defender Langley defender Chandler Suk in the way of a long, wicked shot on goal. The senior showed some discomfort from the blast but promptly headed back into the fray to defend.
Junior middie Conrad Unterkofler then got Saxon supporters shifting nervously in their seats when he fought through the Langley defense for the bounce-shot goal that brought the Chargers to within two goals with a 7-5 score-line. Senior Nico Alcalde added to the home-side unease 17 seconds later when the Chantilly middie bolted in toward Spivey to deliver the unassisted score that brought the Chargers to within a goal of tying the game. But Salzer settled matters at just past the three-minute mark of regulation time to assure his Saxons a path to victory and its second Northern Region title.
In addition to Ahearn’s pair and single goals from Adams, Meyer, Salzer and Sibio, Langley got first-period strikes from senior middie Hunter Bentz and sophomore attacker Billy Orme. Senior attacker Stephen Klein claimed the game-opening goal for Chantilly, to go with Bowers’ two for the game and the solo shots from Alcalde, DeCenzo and Unterkofler during the late-game fightback.
Meehan was credited with six saves while Spivey kept out a dozen scoring attempts on goal. Langley senior Spencer Gorham prevailed on 11 of the 18 face-offs during the contest.
Langley Note: Former Langley middie Alex Devlin (Class of 2009), now at Colorado State, helped his Rams hoist the MCLA (Men’s Collegiate Lacrosse Association) national title hardware this past May 19 with a 7-5 finals win over the Cal Poly Mustangs, in Greenville, S.C. Devlin, who finished the MCLA season with 18 goals and 12 assists, scored the game-opening and eventual game-winning (CSU’s sixth) goal against the Mustangs, and this season has earned MCLA All Tournament Midfield, MCLA Second Team All-America Midfield, and RMLC (Rocky Mountain Lacrosse Conference) Second Team All Conference Midfield honors.
And in other action of note, former Langley longpole defender Thomas Robinson (Class of 2010) joins his Greyhound squad in battle against the University of Maryland Terrapins, with Robinson’s Loyola of Maryland having advanced to the NCAA Div. 1 men’s lacrosse final on Memorial Day Monday in Foxboro, Mass. by virtue of a semifinal victory over the Notre Dame Fighting Irish on Saturday.