After losing its season opener to Yorktown on a frigid night in March, Langley has won seven of nine games, with draws coming in the other two. Its resume has only been bolstered by the results in the last six games, which have all come on the road.
Even more impressive is that the Saxons (7-1-2) are doing it with three freshmen in the starting lineup. The Saxons run about 14 players deep, said Coach Bo Amato, who has had to tinker with a mix of veteran and youth personnel all season long. And even with a couple players quitting in the middle of the season, the roster has kept the depth that should make Langley a factor in the postseason.
“We play a very simple system. . . the young guys seem to catch on,” Amato said. “We’re solid all around with no superstars and we play like that. The seniors are not arrogant and the freshmen are pleased to be a part of something.
The Saxons have allowed just six goals all season, and have collected five shutouts. The pivotal game came in a 1-0 win over Fairfax, which boasts one of the best goalkeepers in the area in senior Joe Rice. That came on March 28, and in the 40 days since, Langley has scored at least two goals in its last seven matches.
“We move the ball really well. . . and we finish our chances,” said senior midfielder Sepehr Harandi, who has scored seven goals this season. “As soon as the Fairfax game came around, we netted one and it just all opened up from there.”
Langley will play two games in two nights this week, meeting Chantilly Wednesday and South Lakes on Thursday. But after playing so many teams on the road while relying on a younger backline to produce, the two-day stretch will have a playoff-feel and will be a welcome one for the Saxons. One of the freshmen starters is Harandi’s little brother, Shayan, a defender who is not only part of the future of the program but also the present.
“We know each other. We know how to play with each other so it makes it a lot easier,” Sepehr Harandi. “It’s been very crucial. So far the freshmen have started nearly every game — all three of them — and they’ve had a major impact on the results of the games.”
Centreville, which won just four matches a year ago, has been one of the area’s hottest teams over the last week.
The Wildcats (5-4) have won three straight matches, including an upset of then-No. 1 Oakton last Thursday. That win was bookended with 1-0 shutouts over Herndon and No. 5 Chantilly, the latter of which came in dramatic fashion on Monday night.
After taking a 1-0 lead on a Ramiz Bakhtari goal, Centreville goalkeeper Dan Kuzemka was faced with preserving the lead with 10 minutes left and Chantilly with a penalty kick opportunity. But Kuzemka said he telegraphed the play to the right as the ball was dropped, and he was right. He made a diving save.
“That was their best chance of the day. We were playing really well in the back,” Kuzemka said. “It was a big play, because there was a lot of momentum to it. We had to win to guarantee a place in the regionals. . . it’s a big thing for our seniors and coaches.”
It was a banner day for Bakhtari and Kuzemka, both freshmen. After starting the season 2-4, Kuzemka said it was by the team’s captain, Fernando Muzo, who re-energized the group. He told the team “to take more pride for the school, and how we all should put in more time for our coaches and put in the time to come to practice,” Kuzemka said.
“Since that we’ve been 4-0. We’ve just really changed the season.”
Briar Woods posted its third straight shutout and fifth of the season with a 2-0 win over Freedom-South Riding Tuesday. . . . Maycol Nunez and Michael Katz each had goals as Washington-Lee blanked Mount Vernon 2-0 to stay unbeaten. . . . Brandon Clegg scored three goals to propel Forest Park past Woodbridge, 5-2. . . . Sammy Sergi scored two goals and Andrew Davies added six saves to lift Broad Run to a 2-1 win over Potomac Falls Tuesday.
1. West Springfield (9-2) LW: 3
2. Oakton (6-2-2) LW: 1
3. Yorktown (8-2-1) LW: 2
4. Briar Woods (7-0) LW: 4
5. T.C. Williams (10-1) LW: 5
6. Forest Park (8-1-1) LW: 6
7. Tuscarora (9-1) LW: 7
8. Broad Run (10-1) LW: 8
9. Washington-Lee (10-0-2) LW: 9
10. Langley (7-1-2) LW: 10
Records through Tuesday. Rankings will be suspended during the playoffs. Final rankings will be published on allmetsports.com on June 18.