One hundred years after it was founded by Oxford and Harvard-educated Charlotte Noland, Foxcroft — which has grown from 27 students in 1914 to around 160 students in grades 9 through 12 — has its first state championship team. Saturday in Richmond, the Middleburg girls school capped the first perfect lacrosse season by beating Norfolk Collegiate, 18-13, in the VISAA Division II championship game.
“First time in 100 years, it feels pretty darn good,” said co-coach and athletic director Michelle Woodruff. “Everybody on campus is smiling. It’s been a long haul for the athletic community here, and they did it, they worked hard to get there.”
Foxcroft’s athletic teams play in the Delaney Athletic Conference, competing against similarly sized schools Emmanuel Christian, Quantico, Seton (Va.), Highland and Wakefield School. The team charged through the DAC this season and won its second straight conference championship. In 2012, the lacrosse team fell in the VISAA semifinals to Cape Henry. Last year, Foxcroft fell to Covenant in the Division II championship.
But this season, Foxcroft won its 17th game on May 17 to clinch the title, the kind of cosmic coincidence indicative of the way everything seemed to fall into place for the team. Foxcroft won its 17 games by an average of more than 13, scoring nearly 18 goals per game and allowing more than 10 only once — that in the VISAA title game.
“I was the one running back and forth, and I just kept looking at the clock. Time kept passing, and I was starting to freak out on the inside,” said senior captain Lilly MacDonald, who played 12 seasons of varsity sports at Foxcroft and had finished as a state runne- up twice in field hockey and once in lacrosse. “This was my fourth state final, and I did not want to come home second AGAIN. So it means the world to me to be the one winning that plaque.”
Her fellow captain Katie Eagen counted the win down helplessly from the other end of the field as MacDonald played keep away.
“I just stood there holding my breath, thinking it’s not real, it can’t be real,” Eagen said. “It was just so much emotion and energy. I wanted to explode.”
MacDonald and the other Foxcroft seniors took their last high school classes last week, so they weren’t required to be at school this week. But they got up early and went back Monday morning, to be there for the morning meeting and to hear their Foxcroft schoolmates cheering when they presented the championship plaque.
“Everyone was cheering, screaming, and going crazy,” MacDonald said. “It was just great.”
Sophomore center midfielder Alex Grace, who committed to Virginia prior to this season, sped around the field and through helpless opposing defenses to score 92 goals — the 11th highest total in the nation this season, according to MaxPreps, and a number that would be good for top 30 in a season all-time in U.S. public school history, according to the National Federation of State High School Associations.
Junior Emma Rogers scored 78 goals, including nine in the VISAA championship game. She also had three assists in that game. Senior Eagen, who never picked up a lacrosse stick until she was a sophomore, emerged as a lockdown force on defense, backing an offense that had five players score 20 goals or more. Sophomore midfielder Pipsy Steyn scored 42 goals, while senior MacDonald (31) and sophomore attack Malan Jackson (22) also reached that mark.
“We’ve got a lot of speed, which is hard to coach. We have some really good stick-handlers. We have some great teamwork,” Woodruff said. “ There was a lot of good ball movement all season long, a really strong defense. I can’t say enough good things about how hard the defense worked. Plus we had two good goalies. It was just an all-around good team.”
That the Foxcroft team was so strong top to bottom wasn’t certain, as 10 seniors departed from the 2013 VISAA finalist squad. But even when some at their school wondered if they’d be as good in 2014, this year’s captains — Eagen, MacDonald, and Kelly Buckland — said they “weren’t willing to hope for anything less” than the school’s first state title.
“I’ve played for a lot of teams at Foxcroft, I’ve seen the good, the bad, and the ugly, and this lacrosse team I think has been my favorite,” MacDonald said. “We’ve really been a family. Whenever we had practice, whenever we had timed sprints, we looked at each other and said, ‘It’s okay, we’re going to do this together.’ And we did.”