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Landon beats St. Stephen's/St. Agnes with tragedy at U-Va. casting a somber cloud

By Christian Swezey
Thursday, May 6, 2010; D08

The Landon School middle school lacrosse team's practices this week were punctuated, according to an eyewitness, by passersby in cars yelling angry words at the team, regardless that the words were directed at fifth- and sixth-graders.

It has been a rough week for all involved at the Bethesda private school in the wake of the news that one of its graduates, Virginia men's lacrosse player George Huguely, was arrested and charged with first-degree murder in the death of Yeardley Love, a player on the women's team, on Monday morning.

Wednesday, the Landon lacrosse team played its first game since the news broke. The fifth-ranked Bears defeated No. 2 St. Stephen's/St. Agnes, 5-4, on a goal by senior Jimmy Sloan with 3 minutes 31 seconds to play.

Neil Phillips, head of the upper school at Landon, said it has been "a very difficult week."

"Our entire community is incredibly saddened and shocked at the recent tragic events," Phillips said. "Our hearts, minds, thoughts and prayers are going out to all the families involved."

The news hit the Landon coaching staff hard. Coach Rob Bordley coached Huguely at Landon. Meantime, Bordley's daughter played at Virginia and was close friends with Love. Most of the assistant coaches knew both Huguely and Love.

Bordley and the players were not made available for comment after the game. Phillips said they are trying their best to work through the difficult time.

"The coaches . . . are having a tough time. But they have jobs to do," Phillips said. "They have students to teach and boys to coach. We're trying to do the best we can. With all that said, it's tough."

Landon (15-4) clinched the No. 2 seed in the Interstate Athletic Conference tournament with the victory over the Saints (15-3). Senior goalie Will Joyce made 16 saves, including two after the go-ahead goal. Saints senior goalie Ben Levy made 10 saves.

"He's good," Saints Coach Andy Taibl said of Joyce. "He's been good the past few years. Obviously, against him you need to shoot the ball well. . . . The team that played harder won."

Junior Patrick Keena had two goals and an assist for Landon. Senior Peter Labovich also had two goals and an assist for the Saints.

The shock and sadness at Landon likely will be present for a long time.

But small victories are always welcome. As one Landon parent was leaving the game yesterday, she turned to a friend and said: "At last. A little bit of good news."

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