Before setting foot on the field for its first game, the Madison boys’ lacrosse team made goals for the season. The Warhawks wanted to go undefeated, something that had never been done at Madison, and they wanted to win a state title.
Goal number one survived just one week before Madison lost to Hamburg (N.Y). The second goal, after a roller-coaster season during which the Warhawks at times seemed dead in the water, is still very much alive.
After opening the season with three straight wins against opponents with winning records, the loss to Hamburg kicked off a stretch in which the Warhawks lost five of their next six games. That stretch coincided with a rash of injuries that left Madison without several key players including dominant faceoff man Kyle Rowe, who missed all or part of five games during the Warhawks’ bad six game stretch.
“It was incredibly frustrating,” Rowe said. “Being on the sidelines was one of the worst feelings I’ve ever had playing sports.”
The injury that kept Rowe on the sideline was his sacroiliac joint, which had slipped out of its normal position in the pelvis, causing intense muscle spasms in his back that made even the most basic movements painful. After first feeling the injury during tryouts in February, Rowe tried to play through the injury.
It wasn’t until the Hamburg game that Rowe realized that he wouldn’t be able to tolerate the pain. The injury kept the senior out of games against No. 8 Chantilly and the Blue Ridge School from Charlottesville. The one full game Rowe played during Madison’s down losing stretch was April 12 against Langley, but he spent much of that game laid out on the sideline trying to stretch out his back.
“While I was on the field I had adrenaline going, so I couldn’t really feel it, but the second I got off the field it hurt to move in pretty much any way,” said Rowe, who has won better than 85 percent of Madison’s faceoffs this season.
With a rehab plan in place following a doctor visit, Rowe was initially limited to faceoff duties in his return, but as his health has improved, so too has Madison’s results. Since Rowe’s return following the Blue Ridge game, the Warhawks have ripped off seven straight wins, earning the top seed in the AAA Liberty District in the process.
“I would definitely say we kind of have a chip on our shoulder,” Rowe said. “In our time at Madison, we’ve never beaten Langley or Chantilly, so those losses really made us pretty mad. So we definitely would love to see those guys again and try to give them our best shot with a healthy team.”
Madison will get its shot at Langley Friday night in the Liberty District title game, this time with a mostly healthy roster that will include Rowe, who has been playing full speed since an April 25 win over Fairfax. It’s a chance the Warhawks will relish.
“All they want to do is play with their teammates, healthy and happy,” Madison Coach Rich Hodge said. “The kids hear the flack from around the region, that they lost a critical game to Centreville, that they lost to Chantilly, that they lost to Langley. They want to beat Langley worse than anything. They are carrying a chip around.”
“Honestly, as a coach, I’d much rather have this squad that I have right now, that’s taken a couple of tough losses knowing that they could have won any of those games, rather than maybe have an undefeated group that’s maybe too cocky or overly confident.”
Arundel avenged its lone loss of the season on Monday, topping South River, 7-6, on junior Aaron Snyder’s overtime goal in the Anne Arundel County title game. The teams could meet for a third time in the Maryland 4A/3A East final. . . . Georgetown Prep earned the top seed in the IAC playoffs for the first time in three years and would host the tournament final. . . . Newly ranked St. Mary’s Ryken will travel to top-ranked Gonzaga for a WCAC semifinal on Thursday.
1. Gonzaga (17-2) LW: 1
2. Paul VI (17-2) LW: 2
3. Georgetown Prep (17-5) LW: 3
4. Landon (12-6) LW: 4
5. Arundel (14-1) LW: 7
6. South River (12-3) LW: 6
7. St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (12-6) LW: 5
8. Chantilly (14-1) LW: 9
9. Glenelg (12-2) LW: 10
10. St. Mary’s Ryken (14-5) LW: NR
Dropped out: DeMatha (11-7)
Bubble: Bullis (8-8), Spalding (12-9), Chesapeake (12-2)
Recruit Watch: Offers, commitments