Girls’ soccer: Langley remains a contender with a new cast of leaders

May 7

Few would have blamed Langley’s girls’ soccer team for chalking up the 2014 season as a rebuilding year. Not only did the Saxons graduate 12 seniors, including honorable mention All-Met forward Kady Kriner, but with their departure went more than 70 percent of the team’s offensive production. What’s more, Langley’s schedule left little room for error, featuring perennial power Stone Bridge and four preseason Post top 10 teams in Yorktown, W.T. Woodson, Westfield and Chantilly.

But even as the Saxons stumbled to a 2-3 start, patience never gave way to pessimism among this young group. Instead, they found ways to fuse the budding talent of their 16 underclassmen with the experience of their seven seniors to win four of their last six games and re-emerge as a contender.

“Honestly, losing 12 people, including a lot of great leaders, off your soccer team is a really big deal,” Saxons senior captain Courtney Cuppernull said. “But we’ve come together as a team. We don’t see any grade barriers between the underclassmen and upperclassmen. That helps us play well off of each other.”

Cuppernull serves as one half of Langley’s best example of chemistry. The defender is tied for the team lead with two assists, while sophomore Claire Meiser has used her blazing speed to tally 11 goals. Nine of Meiser’s goals have come in the past six games, including all five in Langley’s wins against No. 5 Woodson and then-No. 10 Westfield.

“I don’t necessarily have the best foot skills, but I can chase the ball down the line and I try to capitalize off my speed,” Meiser said. “It’s a big thing learning to play with almost a completely new team, but we’re handling it well.”

Getting out into the open field with through balls and quickness are two of the Saxons’ greatest strengths, allowing them to jump out to early leads during their three-game winning streak. Once ahead, the play in goal by senior Madison Card has led Langley (6-4-2, 3-3 in Conference 6) to several solid defensive showings.

“We do really, really well working the ball up the field and have good communication between our offense and defense,” Cuppernull said. “Our transitions aren’t as seamless as we’d prefer in the midfield, so that’s something we’ll have to work on.”

Langley’s development will continued to be tested as the regular season draws to a close. After taking on defending Northern Region champion Chantilly and Conference 6 foe South Lakes on Wednesday and Thursday, the Saxons will look to carry their momentum into the conference playoffs, which start next week.

“The mental side of the game is what’s biggest for us,” Meiser said. “We have to make sure we are pumped up for every game, come out strong and stay that way to hold onto our leads and keep us going in the right direction.”

The Post Top 10

Battlefield and George Mason (11-0) are the area’s lone remaining unbeaten teams. Colleen Gawkins has scored eight of her team-high 19 goals in Battlefield’s past two wins. The Bobcats will put their undefeated mark on the line Wednesday against No. 8 Osbourn Park, which has outscored its past three foes, 15-0. . . . Since losing to No. 6 Loudoun County on April 10, Briar Woods has outscored its past four opponents, 12-1. The Falcons will host No. 4 Broad Run and No. 7 Stone Bridge on Wednesday and Friday, respectively. . . . W.T. Woodson has outscored teams, 19-0, during its three-game winning streak. . . . No. 7 Stone Bridge surrendered its first two goals of the season in a 2-1 loss to Chantilly last Friday.

1. Battlefield (9-0) LW: 1

2. Briar Woods (7-1) LW: 2

3. Tuscarora (8-1-2) LW: 3

4. Broad Run (7-1-1) LW: 4

5. W.T. Woodson (9-1-1) LW: 5

6. Loudoun County (9-2) LW: 6

7. Stone Bridge (8-1-1) LW: 7

8. Osbourn Park (8-1) LW: 8

9. Forest Park (8-3) LW: 9

10. Chantilly (8-3) LW: NR

Dropped out: No. 10 Westfield

On the bubble: Patriot (8-3), Westfield (6-4-1), Yorktown (9-2), McLean (7-1-3).

Records through Tuesday. Rankings will be suspended during the playoffs. Final rankings will be published on allmetsports.com on June 18.

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