For the first time since the Virginia High School League began sponsoring Group AAA championships in both boys' and girls' soccer, Northern Virginia teams hold neither title.
With a 1-0 overtime win over W.T. Woodson, Richmond area school Thomas Dale became just the second non-area team to win the boys' championship since Virginia Beach's Kempsville won in 1997. The Knights dominated their competition this season, outscoring opponents 109-4 en route to a 24-0 record.
For the girls, Northern Region champion Lake Braddock's 2-0 loss to Kellam of Virginia Beach bucked an even larger trend. Northern Virginia schools had won all 21 previous state championships, with a Fairfax County team taking 19 and Woodbridge High School in Prince William County winning the other two.
"The level of soccer is just growing rapidly," said Westfield boys' coach Tom Torres, whose team lost, 2-1, in overtime to Thomas Dale in the semifinals. "I wouldn't read too much into it. . . . I think that the level of play all around is increasing, and that's going to make it more difficult on a yearly basis."
Said Kellam girls' coach Mario Hurdle: "The Northern Region, top to bottom, is the best, but I think Beach soccer is getting stronger. Still, if you want to win the state championship you've got to go through the Northern Virginia teams."
A Tearful Loss for Osbourn
With four straight Virginia AAA tournament berths -- and wins in the first 27 games this season -- Osbourn softball postgame huddles had almost always been devoid of sadness.
That's what made the Eagles' reactions to the 1-0 loss to Kempsville in the state softball championship in Newport News on Saturday all the more striking. The Chiefs scored in the bottom of the seventh inning.
"I've never seen some of these kids cry before," Eagles Coach Renee Leake said. "I've never seen that emotion. They [said], 'I'm sorry we're crying.' I said, 'Keep crying. It tells me that you love this game and that this means so much to you.' "
A day that held so much promise for Osbourn, seeking the Manassas school's first AAA title in any sport, ended with the softball defeat and the baseball team squandering an eight-run lead in an 11-10, 12-inning loss to Princess Anne in Williamsburg.
"I'm walking away with great friendships, great experiences," senior first baseman Kenny Morris said. "I'd rather have a first-place trophy, but second place will do. Second place in the state. There's only one better."
Robinson Beats Robinson
As the Northern Region swept all four individual titles at the Virginia AAA tennis championship this past weekend, the imprint made by Robinson's players could not be ignored.
Of the four teams in the boys' and girls' doubles finals, three were from Robinson -- Mike Smith and Drew Courtney defeated their Robinson teammates, brothers Matt and Riley King, for the boys' doubles title, 6-2, 6-2, and Robinson's Lindsey Hardenbergh and Christine Tran won the girls' championship over Madison's Laura Reichert and Alex Miagkov, 3-6, 6-1, 6-2.
A week earlier, Robinson advanced to the state AAA boys' team semifinals, finishing the season 20-1 after winning its 12th Patriot District title in 13 years and third Northern Region title in four years.
Smith nearly made it to the singles final, as well, succumbing to cramps in his semifinal loss to Bo Edwards of Patrick Henry-Roanoke.
"Our success is a reflection of the depth of our team, and the preparation that our coach, Paul Fisher, gives us," Smith said last weekend. "We're here because we worked hard, and our coaches put us in a position to succeed."
DeMatha Ready to Run
Nearly two months after finishing a close third at the Penn Relays, DeMatha's 4x400-meter relay team will be aiming for redemption on Saturday at the Nike Outdoor Nationals at North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro.
The Stags, whose time of 3 minutes 12.40 seconds was less than a half-second slower than the winner and ranks fourth in the country, will be one of several area teams represented at the meet.
Fauquier senior Sarah Bowman, the All-Met Athlete of the Year for indoor and outdoor track, will try to repeat as champion in the 800, which she won last year in 2:04.94, the fastest time run by any girl since 1996. She is also scheduled to run in the mile, which is scheduled less than two hours after the 800 on Saturday.
Thomas Stone senior All-Met Amy Bilmanis also is looking to repeat in the discus, three weeks after winning her fourth consecutive state title.
Several area standouts will be running in the girls' sprints, including All-Mets Kharya Brown of Brooke Point, Fallon Hutcherson of Potomac (Va.) and Krystin Lawson of Riverdale Baptist. DeMatha senior Kai Roper, the area's best in the 400, is scheduled to run that event as well as the 4x400 relay, while Penn Relays mile champ Andrew Jesien (Walter Johnson) is slated to run in that event.
S. Lakes Hires Winters Scott
South Lakes has hired former Maryland basketball standout Christy Winters Scott as its new girls' varsity basketball coach, South Lakes assistant athletic director Linda Jones said yesterday. Winters Scott, a 1986 graduate of South Lakes who has served as an assistant at Maryland, George Mason and, last year, Georgetown, takes over for Lindsay Trout, who stepped down last month. South Lakes went 0-21 last season.
Staff writers Sean P. Flynn, Judith Evans, Preston Williams and Tarik El-Bashir contributed to this report.