The Washington PostDemocracy Dies in Darkness

Yorktown boys’ soccer uses a big second half to vault into the Class 6 championship game

Two of the Yorktown goal scorers: Gibson Lusk, left, and Tristan Kickbush. (Michael Errigo/The Washington Post)

Yorktown midfielder Luke Garufi stood over a free kick positioned about 30 yards from the goal and close enough to his team’s bench that he could receive murmured instructions from Coach Carlos Aranda.

“Far post, far post,” Aranda said quickly and quietly enough so no West Springfield players could hear.

Garufi put the ball where his coach asked and, when the Spartans’ goalkeeper failed to grab it, a mad scramble ensued. Somewhere in the mess of bodies, Patriots senior Gibson Lusk poked the ball into the net. It gave Yorktown a lead for good and punctuated the full turnaround of a game that started slow and sloppy for the Patriots. Now, they are headed to the Virginia Class 6 title game after a 3-1 victory Monday.

“The first half was our worst of the year,” Aranda said. “At halftime we had to wake up because everyone was sleepy and nervous. I asked them at the break: ‘What are you doing? Let’s play soccer.’ ”

A calm and confident second-half performance gave the home team three goals and vaulted it into Wednesday’s title game. The Patriots, who last made it to a state semifinal in 2016, are seeking the first title in program history.

They will face Hylton on Wednesday in Woodbridge. The Bulldogs beat Cosby in a 4-3 overtime thriller Monday. After going up 3-1 in the second half, Hylton faced a furious rally from the Titans that pushed the game to overtime. Senior Andres Rodriguez’s goal late in extra time handed them a victory and the chance to host the season’s biggest game.

Yorktown entered Monday after a draining region championship victory Thursday over defending champion South Lakes. The Patriots advanced by topping the Seahawks, 11-10, in penalty kicks. Junior forward Tristan Kickbush, who plays goalkeeper for his club team, came in during the shootout to make the game-winning save.

Kickbush also provided a turning point Monday night: It was his head that got the Patriots back into the game. After West Springfield center back Leandro Sainz got the Spartans (14-4-0) on the board early, Yorktown struggled to create chances until Kickbush headed in a free kick early in the second half.

From there, Yorktown (12-3-0) started to control the game and create more chances. Lusk’s goal gave his team the lead with 15 minutes remaining, and junior midfielder Mason Cunningham added a third in the final minute.

“We can tell when a team starts to get tired, and it gives us energy,” Lusk said. “[West Springfield] was on their heels a little bit, and we couldn’t be happier to take advantage and go to the state finals.”

Class 5: Lewis wins on penalties

The Lewis Lancers beat Patrick Henry, 4-3 on penalty kicks after a 1-1 draw. The game was tied at 1 for most of regulation and three overtimes. Lancers star midfielder Cristian Cruz suffered an injury after colliding with the opposing goalie late in the game. He was taken by ambulance to a hospital. Lancers Coach John Millward said after the game that Cruz was conscious and responsive.

The Lancers, a surprising upstart, are seeking the second state title in program history. The first was won in 1985. The Springfield school, previously known as Robert E. Lee High, last won a state title in a team sport in 1990. It will face Virginia Beach power First Colonial on the road.

Class 3: George Mason rolls

George Mason rolled past York County’s Tabb, 5-0. The Mustangs, formerly a Class 2 school, are seeking the 11th state title in program history. They host Spotswood in Wednesday’s championship game.

Read more:

Jerzie Nutile makes good on pinkie swear, pitches Chesapeake softball to Maryland Class 3A title

Chopticon wins Maryland 3A baseball title behind unexpected seven-inning relief appearance

At hoops power DeMatha, a coaching change stirs a painful debate about race

In an act of sportsmanship, a high school crew team gave its gold medals to the competition