The roller-coaster ride that was the final four games of the Broad Run boys' soccer season finally came to an end Wednesday with a heart-breaking loss to Handley in a Region II semifinal.
The Judges advanced with a 1-0 victory after a goal by Nick Headley in the 91st minute.
The loss culminated a stretch of tight games and frayed nerves for the Spartans. They escaped a Dulles District semifinal against Stone Bridge by scoring in sudden-death overtime. They lost in penalty kicks against Park View in the district final. And they survived the first round of the Region II tournament with a win over Western Albemarle in penalty kicks.
By the end of the stretch, Broad Run Coach Jon Hicks said his players were exhausted "emotionally and physically." The one consolation Hicks found in the season-ending loss Wednesday was that Handley is a quality team.
"It would have been bad if we lost to an inferior team," Hicks said, "but they have a great chance to win a state championship."
'From the Mound Down'
The Loudoun Valley baseball team sprinted to the front of the Dulles District race with 13 consecutive victories to start the year. And though their season ended Wednesday with a 12-4 loss to Sherando in the Region II semifinals, there is every reason to expect Loudoun Valley (21-5) to build on its success next season.
The reason behind such optimism is simple: The Vikings' top three starting pitchers -- juniors Brandon Michon, Paul Holden and Alex Byrd -- are expected to return, along with junior reliever John Farris.
"You know I believe in pitching and defense; that's where you start," Coach Wayne Todd said. "We'll build it from the mound down."
Michon (6-1) and Holden (7-3) spent the season as the team's frontline starters, and Byrd (4-0) has not lost in the past two years.
"I think they all lived completely up to the expectations I had for them," Todd said. "And it's very comforting to know we'll have all of them back next year because I know that as good as they were this year, they're only going to get better."
Memorable Four-Year Run
Stinging from an 11-inning loss to Fauquier in a Region II baseball semifinal Wednesday, Stone Bridge's seniors could at least be comforted by their accomplishments over the past four years. The Bulldogs accumulated 51 victories, winning back-to-back Dulles District regular-season and tournament titles.
Four of the 12 seniors on Stone Bridge's roster -- second baseman Landon Gouveia, third baseman Jeff Lee, catcher Adam Ventre and All-Met center fielder Andrew Winslow -- played on the varsity team all four years as the Bulldogs went from six victories their first season to 20 this spring.
"I told them . . . that they put Stone Bridge on the map," Coach Sam Plank said. "Everyone knows who we are because of those guys. And I told the ones coming back that if they learned anything from these seniors, it should be that when you go between the lines, you compete. . . . That's how you win."
A Rare Deficit for Fauquier
In less than a minute Wednesday night against Broad Run, the Fauquier girls' soccer team found itself in an unusual position: playing catch-up.
The Falcons had won the Northwestern District regular season title and reached the Region II semifinals, often taking early leads that eventually turned into easy victories. But in the first minute against Broad Run, the Falcons trailed by a goal. By the 16th minute, the Spartans had scored again. And by halftime, the Broad Run lead was 3-0. Fauquier's season came to an end in a 4-0 loss.
In the 20 games leading up to Wednesday, Fauquier had outscored its opponents by a 95-11 margin.
"We made some mistakes, and that isn't customary of us," Falcons Coach Daniel Beaver said. "Not to take anything away from Broad Run, because they're a good team. They forced it on us, and we didn't respond."
Loudoun County Finishes Strong
After spending the past several years hovering just behind Loudoun Valley, Park View and Broad Run, the Loudoun County softball team pushed into contention in the Dulles District this year. The Raiders (18-5) finished second behind Loudoun Valley and won their final seven regular season games, including a victory over the Vikings.
Loudoun County also split with Broad Run and swept Park View, and the Raiders advanced into Region II play for the first time since 1999. They dropped an 8-4 decision against Turner Ashby on Wednesday in a region semifinal.
"I think we had a wonderful season," Raiders first-year coach Rich Pell said. "We definitely emerged as the number two team in this area, and that's a big step. And we've got a lot of people that are returning next year who have seen a lot of varsity time, so that bodes well for us next year in the district, too."