Highland Boys Aim for TILT Final

The Highland boys' lacrosse team is in a desirable position in The Invitational Lacrosse Tournament Division II bracket: The Hawks are seeded to reach the final and face defending champion Covenant.

Highland, fresh off its Delaney Athletic Conference title, opened TILT play Tuesday with a 16-6 quarterfinal victory over Steward of Richmond. The Hawks (13-4) have advanced to the private school state tournament semifinals for the third straight year and will host either Virginia Episcopal of Lynchburg or Miller of Charlottesville on Friday.

But Highland's focus remains on reaching the TILT final Saturday in Charlottesville, where it likely would meet Covenant, which would be playing a few miles from its campus and defeated the Hawks, 10-5, on May 1. Covenant won the state title a year ago with an overtime victory over Highland, and the two teams seem headed for another meeting.

"I don't want to take [anything] for granted, but throughout they and us have been head and shoulders above the other teams in Division II," Highland Coach Paul Horgan said. "We just want to play well and get back to Charlottesville. Last year, we came awfully close."

Junior Nic Bell had three goals and five assists Tuesday, bringing his season point total to 123. Senior Andrew Raich, who will play for Army, and junior Harrison Young had five goals apiece.

Challenge for Vikings' Vaughn

Loudoun Valley junior Matt Vaughn has not lost a match this season at No. 1 singles. He will face his biggest test today when the Vikings host Potomac Falls and its top player, Anthony Rinaldis.

Before this season, Vaughn had "probably improved his game more than any other player in the district," Loudoun Valley Coach Steve Cohen said. "He definitely has a shot at regionals."

To qualify for the Region II tournament, Vaughn will have to survive a talented field of players in the Dulles District. He has two victories this season over Stone Bridge's Kyle Duffy, including a 10-7 win that took more than two hours. He missed the Vikings' first match with Potomac Falls.

"He doesn't get frustrated and manages his emotions well," Cohen said of Vaughn. "He has solid groundstrokes and hits winners when he needs to. He can stay out there a long time and wear the other guy down."

-- DREW VANESSELSTYN