After struggling early this season with back pain at times so severe that it was difficult to walk, Madison midfielder Kyle Rowe has been splitting his time lately between the lacrosse field and physical therapy.
To pass the hours spent rebuilding his strength, Rowe would focus on how the exercises would help him down the road. Thursday night, those physical therapy sessions paid off.
Paced by a pair of second-half goals from Rowe, the Warhawks squeaked by W.T. Woodson at home, 6-5, punching their ticket to the AAA Northern Region semifinals. Rowe’s goals came in crucial moments for Madison (14-5), twice pushing the Warhawks’ lead to two to keep a pesky Cavaliers squad at arm’s length.
“This game was definitely a grinder,” Rowe said. It’s always fun to win big, but at the same time, the adrenaline going the whole time is a lot of fun in these close games.”
Rowe’s two goals tied him for a game high with W.T. Woodson freshman Connor Yager. Warhawks attackman Kyle Mancini had a team-best two assists against the Cavaliers (11-5) along with a fourth-quarter goal.
While Rowe made the big plays late, it was Madison goalie Matt Hayden who got the crowd going early with a vicious check that stopped a W.T. Woodson fast break and earned the Warhawk keeper a yellow card that nobody on the Madison bench seemed to mind.
“That kid would have turned and just dunked it on me, so I felt like I needed to make a play,” Hayden said. “It was fun. It gets the team going. We needed to send a message quick and hopefully that’s what I did.”
Still flying high following last Friday’s eight-goal win over Langley in the AAA Liberty District title game, the Warhawks found themselves in a much tighter contest against W.T. Woodson. Madison’s margin of victory might have been higher if not for a standout performance from Cavaliers goalie Peter Cheneler, who finished with 12 saves.
“We got away with a little one,” Madison Coach Rich Hodge said. “We were in a dogfight every bit of that game. There’s always a little bit of a letdown too after a big game. The boys are still kind of rolling after that [Liberty District] title game.” . . .
The Robinson boys’ lacrosse team handled McLean, 12-8, in its Northern Region quarterfinal and will face Madison in a semifinal next week. Chantilly knocked out Yorktown, 9-4, setting up a rematch of the 2011 and 2012 state championship games against Langley, which beat South County, 20-9.
The Warhawks (15-1) were slow out of the gate against the Wildcats, allowing Centreville (11-4) to jump out to a 4-2 lead through the game’s first 10 minutes. From there, Madison pulled away from Centreville on the strength of a 7-1 run to close the first half. The Warhawks outscored the Wildcats by an 11-3 margin after halftime.
It was the second time in as many Northern Section tournament games that the Warhawks hung 20 goals on an opponent. Madison Coach Amanda Counts said her team took advantage of the double-digit cushion to work on offensive plays, practice that was punctuated by junior attackman Katie Kerrigan’s behind the back goal with five minutes to play.
“This is definitely not the score that I expected,” Counts said of the Warhawks’ wide margin of victory. “It’s something that people maybe hold against me at times, but I don’t think about the other teams and my coaches don’t think about the other teams when we’re telling the girls what to do.”
Elsewhere in the girls’ bracket, Langley beat W.T. Woodson, 16-8, to set up a semifinal meeting against No. 8 Westfield. Oakton got a road win against Yorktown, 11-2, and will face the Warhawks in the semifinals.