All season, the Cougars had found the back of the net. They had scored game-winning goals, comeback goals and meaningless goals at the end of blowouts. All of those tallies helped the team emerge as the best in Northern Virginia, then helped it reaffirm that title in the postseason. But Saturday afternoon at Glen Allen High, as the sun began to set, there were no goals.
Finally, almost cruelly, Bryan Silver scored just before stoppage time. On the sideline, Coach Ralph Perkins quietly shook his head.
“I was thinking, ‘Wow, a day late and a dollar short,’ ” he said. “And then in the final minute, we had everyone push up to see if we could get lucky.”
The Cougars didn’t get lucky, and they closed their season by accepting the runner-up trophy.
“We always managed to come back,” forward Nick Berten said. “If we started off struggling, we ended the game strong. It’s what we’ve been doing all season. Not strong enough today.”
Berten was one of 15 seniors who helped give the team a shot at its first state title. In the aftermath of Saturday’s loss, it was hard for the players to recognize that accomplishment, but Perkins tried to emphasize it.
“I told them beforehand that this game doesn’t define them,” he said. “They made it all the way to the last game and lose by one goal. They’re champions in my eyes. Everyone couldn’t be more proud of them.”
Elsewhere in Virginia, Saturday felt like business as usual for George Mason, which won the Class 2 title for the third time in four years. The Mustangs’ only loss came against Lee in the regional final. They avenged that with a 2-0 win over the Lancers in the state semifinals.
In the championship game, Zorhan Boston, Declan Quill and Carlos Mercado scored, and the Mustangs’ back line was predictably solid in a 3-0 victory over Giles.
1. Oakton (19-1-2) Last week’s ranking: 1
Before the drama of the state championship game, the Cougars handed South Lakes its first loss of the year in the regional final.
2. Stuart (16-3-1) LW: 6
Stuart held Oakton in check for regulation and two overtime periods before Will Mize’s game-winner ended the Raiders’ remarkable season in the Class 6 semifinals.
3. George Mason (22-1-1) LW: 4
The Mustangs continue to be a model of consistency and dominance, winning the Class 2 championship for the fifth time in six years.
4. South Lakes (15-2-2) LW: 2
Bardia Kimiavi’s goal wasn’t enough in a 2-1, golden-goal loss to Stuart in the state quarterfinals.
5. Briar Woods (15-1-0) LW: 3
The Falcons’ bid to repeat as Class 5 champions fell short with a 4-1 loss to Albemarle in the state semifinals.
6. Loudoun Valley (19-2-0) LW: 5
One of the greatest comeback seasons this area has seen ended in the state semifinals with a 6-1 loss to Blacksburg.
7. Yorktown (12-4-4) LW: 7
The Patriots’ season ended in penalty kicks against No. 1 Oakton.
8. Manassas Park (14-5-2) LW: 10
A 1-0 loss to York ended the Cougars’ season in the Class 3 state semifinals.
9. Battlefield (11-3-3) LW: 8
The Bobcats’ season came to an end with a 3-2 loss to Yorktown in the second round of the Class 6 Region D playoffs.
10. W.T. Woodson (10-3-3) LW: 9
The Cavaliers’ season ended with a 1-0 loss to West Potomac in the second round of the Class 6 Region C tournament.
Dropped out: None