Broad Run senior Mike Roberson clamped the ball between his lacrosse stick and the ground, and then with perfect timing raked the ball from his Loudoun County foe and toward onrushing teammates.
The scene was the same on the first seven faceoffs Monday night in a Dulles District boys' lacrosse semifinal in Purcellville, and each time Roberson was successful. On two occasions, he flicked the ball through the air to teammate David Heenan, who never broke stride, moving quickly into the offensive end and dumping the ball off to a Spartans attackman for easy goals.
By the end of the first quarter, Broad Run was well on its way to a 16-3 victory over Loudoun County -- earning a spot in the Dulles District final and a berth in the Region II tournament. The Spartans (14-2) were scheduled to play Loudoun Valley (15-0) yesterday in the district tournament final.
"We're capable of moving the ball in transition . . . and I told the guys that if we had the chance to win the faceoffs and push the ball to the goal, to do it," Spartans Coach Phil Truiett said. "Mike Roberson did a wonderful job."
The main benefactors of Roberson's grunt work were sophomores Evan Morgan (five goals, two assists) and Easton Rogers (four goals, two assists). They scored three of the four goals in a first-quarter stretch that helped Broad Run take control of the game; the Spartans were tied at 1 with Loudoun County (11-4) but worked methodically and quickly for four goals in 3 minutes 16 seconds.
"It helps to start off real fast," Morgan said. "Getting to a quick lead always helps."
Not only did the early advantage remove any drama from the game Monday, it also helped ensure Broad Run would play on into next week's Region II tournament, regardless of the outcome of the district final.
The Spartans were tantalizingly close to that achievement a year ago, pushing Loudoun Valley to double overtime before losing to the Vikings. This season, Broad Run will join the Vikings as the Dulles District's top two teams will meet their counterparts from the Jefferson-Valley District.
"It's been a long and winding road," Truiett said, "but we finally got it. They put the time in and turned things around."
Said Morgan: "We keep on progressing, and every year we get a little better."
Broad Run has made steady advances over the past three seasons, but Loudoun Valley remains the measuring stick among boys' lacrosse programs in the Dulles District. The Vikings advanced to the district final with a 14-1 victory over Stone Bridge and had clinched a Region II berth by finishing first in the regular season.
Loudoun Valley scored the first 12 goals of the game against Stone Bridge (8-6) -- a far cry from the heated battles between the two teams a year ago, when Stone Bridge was the Dulles champion -- and was effective in nearly every aspect of its play.
Senior John Sheehan had four goals in the first half, sophomore J.D. Harkey added two, and the Vikings held a comfortable lead the entire night. Harkey finished with three goals, and senior Alex Fleming had three goals and three assists.
Along with a balanced offense, Loudoun Valley's defense staved off 6:30 worth of penalties in the first half, killing off five extra-man opportunities for the Bulldogs. The Vikings' stout unit -- including senior defenseman Nathan Hayba and goalkeeper Peter Ford (12 saves) -- was buoyed by the return of senior Cameron McWhinney, who earlier this month had been feared lost for the season with a neck injury.
"There's been a lot of talk this year about how good the Broad Run defense is. . . ," Loudoun Valley Coach Bill Schoeb said, tailing off at the end. "We just got our best defensive player back."