When the Virginia AAA Northern Section bracket was released earlier this month, Madison Coach Amanda Counts made a point not to look, just so she wouldn’t have to worry about when her team would play Oakton.
Counts knew it was likely that her team would have to go through the defending state champion Cougars if it was going to advance to the state tournament, but it wasn’t going through Oakton that concerned her. The Warhawks coach mostly hoped to avoid having to go through her own family.
Madison drew Oakton for Wednesday’s semifinal, a game the Warhawks won, 16-12. For Madison, the victory meant bids to both Friday’s Northern Section title game as well as next week’s state championship tournament. For Counts, the win also meant knocking out her sister in law, Oakton Coach Jean Counts.
The Warhawks will face Langley, which topped No. 8 Westfield, 15-14, on a buzzer-beating goal in the other semifinal.
“I’m sad for her,” said Amanda Counts, whose team defeated Oakton in the 2011 state final. “I know how awful it would feel not to be able to see my girls after today, to have to wait until February,”
Junior midfielder Alex Condon was the top offensive weapon for the Warhawks against Oakton, tallying six goals in the victory. Sophomore goalie Sigourney Heerink had 13 saves for Madison.“We haven’t been pushed to our hardest yet and we haven’t been able to show what we have yet,” Condon said. “I feel like this game is going to prepare us for Friday and for states.” . . .
Langley’s Olivia Sisson will turn 18 years old on Thursday, but the Saxons’ senior got her birthday celebration started a day early, beating the buzzer with a game-winning goal to take down Westfield.
The Saxons, who led 10-3 at the half, allowed the Bulldogs to tie the game at 14 with just 48 seconds to play. Langley won the subsequent draw and Saxons senior Haley Soutter found Sisson in position to score the game-winner as time expired.
“It’s a great way to end my childhood, so to speak,” Sisson said. “I was pretty sure it counted but there was definitely a little bit of uncertainty in my mind that maybe I hadn’t gotten it in before the buzzer. As we were celebrating, I was like ‘shoot, I really hope that counted.’ ”
The Warhawks traded punches with the Rams for the length of Wednesday’s games, fighting through four ties in the game’s first three quarters. Madison managed to scratch together just enough offense in the second half to finally bury the Rams, outscoring Robinson 3-2 in the third quarter and 4-3 in the fourth.
“I knew we needed a spark, so we started to push it in transition a little bit more,” Madison attackman Nick Gabriel said.
Gabriel finished as the top scorer for Madison with a hat trick while midfielder Kyle Rowe, usually a dominant offensive force for the Warhawks, was held scoreless by the Rams’ defense but won all but three of the faceoffs he took. . . .
The win also secured for the Warhawks a spot in the Virginia state tournament, a feat that seemed improbable during a mid-April stretch in which Madison lost five of six. Since then, the Warhawks have won 10 straight and are embracing the underdog role with open arms. “This is just a resilient bunch,” Coach Rich Hodge said. . . .
After watching its season end with losses to Langley in each of the last four seasons, Chantilly finally toppled the four-time defending state champion Saxons in the other semifinal.
The Chargers jumped out early and cruised to an 8-2 home win to earn a spot in the state quarterfinals for the fifth time in six seasons. Asked which felt better, advancing to the section final or getting Langley off his back, Chantilly senior Mike Marson was quick with a reply.
“Definitely knocking Langley out. It’s just the semifinals, we still got a long way to go, but man, it feels great,” he said. “It feels amazing. It’s like winning all four of the games, combined, pretty much right now.” . . .
In the AA Northern Section, the Dominion boys won their semifinal over Fauquier, 14-4, and advance to face the winner of Loudoun County-Woodgrove, which was postponed due to weather with the Raiders leading 5-3. Play will resume Thursday at 6 p.m. On the girls’ side, Loudoun Valley defeated Kettle Run, 19-8, while Tuscarora-Woodgrove was postponed.