For two of the best lacrosse programs in Virginia, the hard part began as soon as their seasons ended.
Graduation of key members on both the Oakton boys' team and the W.T. Woodson girls' team undoubtedly signifies a looming adjustment period for the two state champions.
At Oakton, where the Cougars (14-4) just won an unprecedented third straight unofficial state title with 16-10 win over Albemarle on Saturday, the team faces the tall order of replacing 16 seniors.
Among that group are attacks Matt Silton and Scott Hoefer, midfielder Bobby Fitton and defensive stopper Pat O'Keefe -- all of whom played prominent roles in the Cougars' title run. Then again, a pipeline is in place to combat such a mass exodus. Oakton's junior varsity program is thriving, and more than 30 players played for the recently added freshman team.
The Cougars believe they still have enough left in-house to remain confident heading into next season, including junior Donald Murphy, who scored five goals against Albemarle, and junior defender Keith Payne.
"I was at the [junior varsity] banquet the other day and I said it's fortunate and unfortunate," Coach Tony Gray said. "Fortunate because we'll have some open spots for some new guys and unfortunate because we're losing a great senior class. We get paranoid every year, but the kids just step up for every game."
W.T. Woodson, which defeated Albemarle, 20-4, on Saturday, won't undergo quite the same facelift next season, but it does lose the best player in the history of the program, midfielder Ashley McCulloch.
The school's all-time leading scorer, McCulloch was at her best during the postseason. The All-Met scored six goals against Lake Braddock in the Northern Region semifinals, five goals -- including the winner -- in a comeback victory over Oakton in the region final and seven in the state title game.
But two of the top players for the Cavaliers (16-1) -- Michaela Seigo and Michele White -- are juniors.
"These last couple of wins have been team wins," Coach Jenn Karr said. "Ashley's certainly been a key to a lot of our success, but I don't think a lot of it would have happened without the support."