Alex Wilson passed the ball to Han Miller, and because team chemistry takes years to build but must be revealed in spontaneous instants, years of work boiled down to two words: “Take it,” Wilson called to Miller as he let the ball go.
Arlington County’s high schools began playing lacrosse in 2000. None of them have ever played in a state final. Until this spring, Yorktown had never reached a region final. Its closest trip, in 2014, ended in the region semifinals with an 8-6 loss to Robinson that Coach Greg Beer said “will scar me for the rest of my life.”
Yorktown will play at Battlefield in Haymarket after the Bobcats beat Cosby, 6-4, in the other Class 6 semifinal Tuesday. After winning in Midlothian, the Bobcats will also be making their first state title appearance.
For Yorktown, the first steps toward Saturday’s state final were laid before this year’s players were born, and over 21 years the Patriots toiled and waited until they could play in a state semifinal, and they could meet the state’s top program, and they could send it to double overtime, and one player could shout, “Take it,” and another player could take it.
“I saw I had the matchup coming,” Miller said. “They’d been playing me hard the whole game, so I gave him a little bite to the left, he took the bait, and I rolled back and just let it go.”
Robinson dominated in the faceoff circle, controlled possession and outshot Yorktown. But the team that has reached six of the past seven state finals and believed it could return Saturday was upstaged by the team that had never made it to this point and yet somehow believed it could.
In fact, the Patriots believed last year was their year. “We knew we had something special last season,” Miller said. The pandemic didn’t crush that belief — it just forced a delay.
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When the returning players reconvened in the fall, nothing had convinced them they weren’t capable of a deep run in 2021. In the tense moments Tuesday, Beer said his players stayed together on their own, unafraid of the stakes.
“It’s a tough thing to learn, but they realized nothing’s for granted,” Beer said. “You never know when you could have your whole season just vanish because of something that’s completely out of your hands.”
In the end, a massive win gave way to a massive celebration, which required a massive cleanup. Twenty-three helmets ended up as debris, scattered across Robinson’s field, one near the goal, one past midfield and one on each sideline. One more time, Yorktown knew exactly what to do. “Just grab everything — we’ll figure it out later,” one assistant coach said.
The Patriots each grabbed a helmet, any helmet, and filed one by one out the stadium’s gate, off to try to win one more game on a ride that somehow isn’t over yet.
Class 5: Riverside dominates
Riverside cruised, 20-3, at home against Patrick Henry and will get a chance to win another state championship (the Rams won in Class 4 in 2019) with a home game Saturday against Douglas Freeman, which took care of Freedom-South Riding in its semifinal, 18-6.
Class 4: Dominion moves on
Dominion advanced, 14-10, over Fauquier and earned a tough road game against E.C. Glass, which has played in three straight Class 4 title games and beat Dominion in 2018.
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