When the Woodgrove girls’ lacrosse team completed a stunning district title run last May, their on-field celebration lacked the traditional championship banner. The first-year school hadn’t purchased one yet.
Pioneers when they claimed the school’s first district title in any sport, Woodgrove’s girls’ lacrosse team is now one of four girls’ teams plowing through the postseason this spring. In only its second year, Purcellville’s second high school is establishing itself as a juggernaut in Virginia AA girls’ sports.
The girls’ lacrosse team that started it all hosts crosstown rival Loudoun Valley on Wednesday night in a regional semifinal. This month the Woodgrove girls have already won Dulles District championships in lacrosse, soccer, softball and tennis.
Now, as Virginia’s playoff format moves into regional and state tournament play, the school hopes soon to be raising a different kind of banner.
“Almost everyone is an athlete here, and many of us play multiple sports,” said Sarah Hardison, the soccer team’s second-leading goal-scorer and the leading scorer on Woodgrove’s state semifinalist basketball team. “We had a unique opportunity to start something new here. And it helps that everybody is talented.”
When Allder School Road finally opened to traffic in front of Woodgrove, Lisa Hemphill and her father began a series of weekly drive-bys to monitor the progress next to the hole in the ground that would become her new high school.
Then a sophomore at nearby Loudoun Valley, Hemphill and hundreds of her classmates eagerly awaited the August 2010 completion of the new school, built to ease the overcrowding at Loudoun Valley, which opened in 1962. On each visit, Hemphill, a middie on the Vikings’ junior varsity lacrosse team, paid close attention to the stadium and its glistening turf, where she hoped to help Woodgrove build its athletic program from the ground up.
Without question, however, Loudoun Valley has played a major role in the Wolverines’ rise. Among the underclassmen who followed the lure of a fresh start in a new building with top-notch athletic facilities were 10 members of Loudoun Valley’s varsity soccer team, seven varsity softball players, a trio of varsity lacrosse players and the bulk of Hemphill’s JV lacrosse team.
Then the Wolverines hired away several key members of Loudoun Valley’s coaching staff, including longtime softball coach Joe Spicer, varsity soccer assistant Erin Barrett and junior varsity lacrosse coach Bob Fuller to build programs with plenty of familiar faces.
While the school was devoid of seniors, many of teams — particularly on the girls’ side — had already been playing together for years, easing the transition.
In their inaugural season, the girls’ lacrosse team went unbeaten to capture the school’s first district championship.
“It was amazing to do that in our first year,” Hemphill said. “But we weren’t really a first-year team, we were just a first-year varsity team.”