After needing late rallies to overcome three-goal deficits in the second halves of the Virginia AAA Northern Region semifinals and final, the Oakton boys' lacrosse team wasted no time Saturday in an 18-12 victory in the unofficial Virginia championship game against host Albemarle.
The Cougars scored five goals in the game's first five minutes, winning all five faceoffs and allowing Albemarle just two possessions and one shot during that span. Oakton never trailed on its way to a second consecutive state title.
Oakton (16-2) won for the 14th straight time and became the third school in a row from the Northern Region to win back-to-back state championships, following Robinson (2001-02) and W.T. Woodson (1999-2000).
"It was nice to have a cushion for once," senior All-Met Quinn Cooke said. "It gave us a spark at the beginning, and it helped us feel comfortable in the game because we had some new guys who hadn't been in the state [final] before."
Ten players scored for Oakton, led by junior Matt Silton's four goals. Cooke scored three goals with four assists, and sophomore Donald Murphy added three goals and three assists. Junior Cody Grimm had two goals, one assist and won 17 of the 27 faceoffs he took.
After Oakton's initial barrage, Albemarle (17-3) regrouped and cut the Cougars' lead to 7-6 early in the second quarter. Oakton, however, scored five straight goals -- the middle three in a 15-second span -- to regain control before halftime.
"That's basically been the story of our season," Cooke said. "We kind of coast when we can, and then we turn it on."
The girls' state final was much easier for W.T. Woodson, which handily defeated Albemarle, 20-4, and provided a perfect ending to Coach Darah Bonham's 10-year career. Bonham will take over as W.T. Woodson's athletic director next year.
"If I had to write a script, this is the way I want to go out, not necessarily for me, but for these kids," Bonham said. "They deserved it."
The victory gave the Cavaliers (18-3) their second state title in the past three years and state-high fifth in the past decade. It was their eighth victory in a row, concluding a dominant postseason run that also produced Liberty District and Northern Region titles.
"Certainly, they're one of the best teams I've ever been a part of," Bonham said of this year's squad, which includes six players who also played on the Cavaliers' state championship field hockey team.
Like the Oakton boys' team, the W.T. Woodson girls went up quickly. Unlike Oakton, the Cavaliers never were challenged by Albemarle (7-9). W.T. Woodson won the first seven draws, scored the game's first nine goals and took a 14-1 lead into halftime.
Senior Courtney Arnold had a game-high five goals and one assist, junior Ashley McCulloch had two goals and three assists and junior Emma Devine had three goals. Junior Lauren McLemore and senior Liz Johnson had two goals and two assists apiece, and senior goalie Jackie Bryan stopped five of the seven shots she faced before joining many of the Cavaliers' starters on the bench in the second half.
"They're probably the best team we played this year," Albemarle Coach Jackie Hartley said.