Stone Bridge made a rapid ascent to the Virginia AA Division 4 semifinals, qualifying for the state tournament in its third year of existence. But the Bulldogs had to wait an extra day to play defending champion Lafayette for a berth in the state final.

The game was scheduled to be played yesterday at Stone Bridge but was moved to 1:30 p.m. today after Thursday's storm covered the field there with six inches of snow and caused Loudoun County schools to close on Thursday and Friday.

The No. 19 Bulldogs (10-2) did not practice on Thursday but had a short workout in the gym on Friday and were scheduled to practice outside yesterday. Schools in James City County near Williamsburg, including Lafayette, opened two hours late Thursday, and the Rams (9-2) did not practice. Lafayette opened on time Friday, and the team practiced outdoors.

Even though the storm caused a disruption in Stone Bridge's routine, Coach Mickey Thompson was grateful his team is playing in Ashburn.

"They were talking about moving it to another site, maybe trying to find a turf field someplace," Thompson said. "There was even some talk about playing [at Lafayette], so I'm just glad we're still at home."

Such a distraction could have derailed the team's preparation or caused loss of focus, but Thompson did not envision the Bulldogs having difficulty adjusting.

"If we have a problem with this, then there is something wrong with us," Thompson said. "This should not affect us."

Stone Bridge has experience on a Sunday. The Bulldogs lost to Park View, 34-21, on Oct. 20 in a game moved because of security concerns during the sniper shootings. They have not lost in six games since then, and the Park View game was a turning point this season.

"We're different than we were then," Thompson said. "Physically, we played well enough to win, but made some mental mistakes in alignment and communication. We were good enough to win, and we didn't because of the mental part of the game, and that's something we talk about. As soon as we make mental mistakes [in practice], that's always brought back up."

Mental errors must be at a minimum this afternoon. The Rams had to juggle their travel schedule but are familiar with playing in a state semifinal, having reached that round in four of the past five seasons.

"I just don't want to have the mental errors that we had back then," Thompson said. "We're going to have to play our best game. We have to make sure we're in the right place to give ourselves a chance."

"I'm just glad we're still at home," Coach Mickey Thompson says of his 10-2 Bulldogs.