Two teams ventured into uncharted territory Friday, each the first in its county to play for the highest title in Virginia high school lacrosse. In the end, Yorktown and Battlefield were playing against themselves, two boys’ programs waging a battle to finish the decades-long struggle of building a champion.

They went goal for goal until they needed overtime to decide a winner in the Class 6 title game. There, Yorktown junior Alex Wilson found a sliver of open space and delivered the shot that gave his team a thrilling 9-8 victory in Haymarket.

“I saw it hit the back of the net, and I just took off my helmet and started running,” Wilson said with the glee reserved for those who score game-winning goals in state championship games. “I couldn’t believe it.”

In the first 14 years of statewide competition in boys’ lacrosse, 10 teams hogged the 28 berths in the highest classification’s title game. Eight of those 10 came from Fairfax County, the exceptions being Loudoun Valley in 2010 and James River in 2016. Yorktown (16-0) and Battlefield (12-2) crashed the party Friday, and “Battlefield, in a lot of ways,” Yorktown Coach Greg Beer said, “is a mirror of us.”

Their matchup unfolded the only way it could, the score so close and the participants so new to this stage that both coaches found themselves reminding their players to breathe. “Every single timeout, we talked about taking a deep breath,” Battlefield Coach David Suthers said. Yorktown’s Wilson added, “Our coaches told us to just breathe.”

Each time one team pulled ahead, the other answered. Battlefield clung to the slimmest of leads at halftime. Yorktown was the first to build on its lead, stretching its advantage to 8-5 early in the fourth quarter. But its opponent responded fittingly, clawing back to tie the score at 8 with 59.8 seconds left. Yorktown had two more shots for the win in the final seconds, including one that clanged off the post, but overtime was inevitable.

Wilson’s shot hit the net 34 seconds later and set off the celebration. Beer, who took over in 2006 and ushered the Patriots through their journey to the mountaintop, took a moment to gather himself at the back of the handshake line.

He later said, “I’ve repeated myself 10 times,” and, “I don’t know where the hell I am right now,” and it was understandable. Overwhelmed by the celebration around him, he, too, was at a loss for words and out of breath.

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