“We’re not done yet!” he cautioned, reminding Langley’s team that a state title game’s work remained. But in those words, he also told the story of Langley’s unexpected return to the state championship game for the fifth time in sixth years.
“That’s the best part of this team,” senior midfielder J.T. Meyer said. “Throughout the whole year — and this is different from the past — no one has expected us to get this far.”
In reading the online preseason chatter, the Saxons heard they were supposed to be done long before June: they’d graduated talent from a team that came up short of the state championship game in 2013.
“That didn’t matter to us,” Meyer said. “I remember in preseason, even before the season, we’d see each other in the hallways and chant ‘States, states, states.’ ”
The Saxons looked done again in early April, when they were 3-4
Then came a five-goal comeback against Stone Bridge and another comeback against Yorktown a month later. Langley ran off nine straight wins heading into the 6A North final against Robinson last week.
That game might’ve buried the Saxons (16-6) again, a 15-3 loss that was “very embarrassing,” according to senior leading scorer Billy Orme. Tuesday at Osbourn Park (12-6) in Manassas, Langley found itself down a goal early. Then the Saxons scored seven straight.
“We were moving the ball well,” Orme said. “Joe Ulepic was getting all the faceoffs for us, and we were sharing the ball well and putting it in.”
With a 9-3 halftime lead, they weren’t done yet. At one point, the Saxons scored six goals in three minutes, then nine goals in eight minutes. By the fourth quarter the clock was running, the loss to Robinson felt like a misstep and Langley’s improbable run was extended.
“I’m not sure I ever really knew this was possible,” said Langley Coach Earl Brewer, who has coached the Saxons for 20 seasons. “But the turning point was after we came back against Stone Bridge, I saw something in the kids. Their fire, their heart, their grit: I just said ‘These guys aren’t going to quit.’ ”
Meyer and Orme combined for all nine of Langley’s first-half goals and finished with seven apiece to propel the Saxons into Saturday night’s state title game against Robinson at Lake Braddock.
Early in Tuesday’s Virginia 6A North semifinal at Robinson, Battlefield looked upset-ready. The Bobcats went goal-for-goal with their favored hosts and headed to halftime down just one.
“They were an athletic team and really had nothing to lose,” Robinson Coach Matt Curran said. “So they came out and played us really tough.”
But the Rams’ defense held the Bobcats to one second-half goal and then turned in some offense when long pole Jack Rowlett scored two goals in a minute to build Robinson’s lead to three in an 8-4 victory.
“He just brought the ball right up the field and scored,” Curran said. “We were pressing and rushing offensively, so that’s really the spark we needed.”