After her girls’ lacrosse team’s blowout loss to Langley in late May, Yorktown Coach Jenny Tran searched the internet for a story that might motivate her players. She found it in her opponent’s history.
On Tuesday night, Yorktown altered it with its 11-10 win over Langley in McLean. The Patriots qualified for their first state championship game, while Langley’s season ended without a title for the first time since 2018.
Yorktown (18-4) will play Battlefield in the Class 6 championship game Saturday afternoon at Champe High in Aldie. (Battlefield beat Champe in the other semifinal Tuesday.)
“I always tell the girls failure leads to success,” Tran said. “We need to lose games to learn how to make adjustments, do something a little bit differently, so that we can execute the next time.
“In pregame talk, I said, ‘Look … we’re not leaving the field unless it’s with a win.’ My girls went out there, there was no pressure, we had nothing to lose, and we took control of the game.”
Entering this season, Langley (14-3) had dominated Yorktown in recent years, including a 21-3 result in last year’s Liberty District championship game. That changed April 26, when Langley beat Yorktown by three goals. The close margin provided Yorktown the confidence to compete with the Saxons.
“Once you get over the hump, Langley no longer has power over us,” said Tran, who started at Yorktown in September 2017. “It’s always been a mental game like: ‘Oh no, Langley is such a great school. They’re going to beat us by so much. We have no chance.’ ”
On May 17, Yorktown beat Langley by four goals to win its first Liberty District title. It was Langley’s first defeat against a Virginia public school since the 2018 state championship game, which Langley lost, 17-10, to W.T. Woodson.
Still, Langley returned May 27 with a 14-5 win over host Yorktown in the Class 6 Region D championship game. With a state tournament matchup possible, Tran shared Langley’s history with her players.
Langley seized a 9-6 lead with 18:15 remaining Tuesday. But Yorktown rallied, leading to midfielder Emily Stafford’s goal on a free position with 3:57 left to knot the score at 10.
With less than 30 seconds remaining, attacker Ainsley Burke scored on a free position to put Yorktown ahead, and the Patriots stalled the final seconds after controlling the ensuing draw.
Nearly 30 minutes later, Yorktown players and coaches turned their attention to Battlefield, which qualified for its first state championship game with a 19-4 win in Haymarket. The Bobcats (18-2) took a 10-goal lead late in the first half against Champe (14-8) to start the running clock.
Battlefield is making its first state tournament appearance since 2014. The Bobcats normally would have qualified last year after finishing as the runner-up in its region, but only the region champion advanced because of the compressed schedule resulting from the coronavirus pandemic.
“It’s a little surreal,” attacker Grace Patane said. “We definitely put in the work, and we definitely deserved to be in this spot. We all put in our own individual effort and we all work together, and I think that’s how we got where we are now.”
Coach Mary Kugler saw her team’s potential forming April 6 in its 22-4 win over Prince William County rival Patriot. Kugler turned to her assistant coaches during that game in Nokesville.
“If we continue to play like this,” said told them, “we got this.”
Class 6 boys: Battlefield advances
In the Class 6 boys’ semifinals, Battlefield won a three-overtime thriller over Patriot, 10-9, on attackman Ronan Cleary’s game-winner in Nokesville.
The Bobcats (17-2) will return to the championship game after losing to Yorktown in overtime last year. They will play the winner of Wednesday night’s semifinal between Madison and Yorktown in the championship game Saturday afternoon at Champe.
Battlefield and Patriot (17-4) had split their previous four meetings. Patriot rallied from a three-goal deficit late in the third quarter to send the game to overtime before the Bobcats beat the Pioneers for the third time.
“With the rivalry game, and that was our fifth game, the emotions were kind of crazy,” Battlefield Coach David Suthers said. “But that’s kind of what I was pushing is: ‘How can we control our emotions? How can we play under control and really look for our opportunities to take advantage of?’ ”
Class 5 boys: Riverside, Briar Woods win
The Riverside and Briar Woods boys will meet in the Class 5 championship game after both Loudoun County teams won their semifinals.
The Rams cruised to victory over Deep Run, 20-9, in Leesburg; the Falcons beat Douglas Freeman, 12-10, in Henrico.
Reigning champion Riverside (19-1) and Briar Woods (15-5) will seek their programs’ fourth titles Saturday afternoon in Leesburg. The Rams have beaten the Falcons twice this season, including in the region championship game June 1.
“As a competitor, you always want to get back there,” Riverside Coach Nick Worek said. “As a worker, you know you have to do some serious work to get back there. To get to the state championship, it’s not easy. That’s a standard that we want to attain, reaching the state title game and playing the last game of the year.”
Class 5 girls: Riverside gets rematch
The Riverside girls also will play for the Class 5 championship after beating Deep Run, 16-7, in Leesburg.
At home Saturday afternoon, the Rams (17-2) will face Douglas Freeman, which beat Independence, 18-8, in the other semifinal in Henrico. Riverside lost to Freeman, 16-14, in last year’s championship game.
Class 4: Dominion will go for sweep
The Dominion boys and girls will play for Class 4 championships Saturday at Massaponax High in Fredericksburg after semifinal wins Tuesday.
The boys defeated Loudoun Valley, 14-4. The girls beat Meridian, 16-11.