Everything pointed toward overtime as the final 60 seconds ticked off the clock in the Northern Region boys’ lacrosse final Thursday night. After trailing Chantilly the entire game, Annandale clawed its way to a one-goal deficit with 53 seconds remaining.
Atoms senior Andy Craig — an unstoppable force on faceoffs all game — won the ensuing faceoff, kicking the ball deep into the Chantilly zone where all-American Nathan Miller scooped it up in traffic and looked for an avenue for a potential tying shot.
But the opening never materialized.
Chargers sophomore lefty defender Jake Dansey made sure of it. With a swift check on the man he’d hounded all night with the help of an aggressive defense, Dansey stripped Miller of the ball and the Chargers cleared their zone to seal a 12-11 victory and capture their second region title in four years.
“When he got the ball, I knew that was going to be a make-it-or-break-it-type moment,” Dansey said. “I just put all my last energy in it and I got the ball out of his stick.”
Two nights after the Atoms (15-3) used a blistering start to upend two-time state champion Langley in the semifinals, they found themselves reeling early after Chantilly netted the first five goals. Annandale rallied with three goals from Miller and outscored the Chargers 3-1 in the final frame. But Chantilly’s defense did just enough to protect its early lead and Annandale’s attempt to run the length of the field with 14 seconds left never produced a shot.
Craig Penman and Daniel DeCenzo each had three goals for the Chargers (19-1), who hope to continue their run to their first state title since 2008. Langley kept its hopes of a three-peat alive with an 11-7 win over West Springfield in the consolation game to earn a spot in the state tournament field.
A year ago the Madison girls’ team rode an undefeated regular season into the playoffs only to see its hopes for its first Northern Region title derailed. This spring an unbeaten record took a back seat to goals of postseason glory — but that hasn’t stopped the Warhawks from steamrolling their way to another still-perfect record.
Thursday in a region title matchup with Oakton, Madison (19-0) finally captured that elusive trophy, racing to an early lead with a fluid motion offense and cruising to a 23-14 victory.
“Last year we kind of got ahead of ourselves,” said senior Allison Hahn, who finished with seven assists and three goals. “I think once we started the season we kind of realized that no other team could come close to us and the undefeated thing just kind of came with it.”
Megan Bisson and Julia Kehoe each had five goals to lead eight Warhawks scorers. Carly Palmucci tallied seven times for the Cougars. Chantilly edged Langley, 9-8, in the third-place game to earn a state tournament bid.