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Girls’ lacrosse: Woodgrove’s long wait ends with Virginia 5A state title game berth

By 10 a.m. Thursday, the Woodgrove girls’ lacrosse team had waited long enough.

The chaos stirred by weather, exams and vacations didn’t matter anymore. Impatient for a chance to reach a state title game, the Wolverines forced a running clock long before halftime of their Virginia 5A state semifinal with eight goals in eight minutes after scoring five in seven minutes the night before, when the semifinal had been suspended because of inclement weather. The officials opted against a running clock until the second half, but it still took only an hour for the buzzer to sound on Woodgrove’s 18-7 victory over Salem, ending the Wolverines’ wait for a chance at a first Virginia girls’ lacrosse championship.

All the other Virginia lacrosse state semifinals were completed Tuesday, but the Wolverines had to wait until Wednesday while Salem had its graduation. Then came the storms Wednesday night, which pushed the game back two hours, then delayed it another, then bumped the game’s remaining 43 minutes to Thursday morning.

“It was so important for us to score goals early,” Woodgrove assistant coach Keri Reid said. “We wanted to make sure we got this game in if the weather came back.”

Because Woodgrove (16-5) made it so far, played so late into June that school was almost out and exams nearly finished, Coach Bob Fuller had to leave for a trip planned long in advance, so Reid filled in. After the game, the team huddled around a cellphone to call him.

“Tell him we lost!” one Wolverine joked, but the idea was short-lived: they knew Fuller would be eager for news, beside himself to miss the state tournament run he engineered.

Virginia’s new playoff bracket setup meant their annual nemeses from larger schools were no longer in the bracket. But the year after losing several seniors from great teams felled by those bigger powerhouses, the Wolverines began to believe this was finally their time.

“It’s been amazing to watch everyone grow as players this year,” sophomore Nora Bowen said. “To see all the work pay off, this means a lot.”

Several Wolverines players were supposed to be on vacation by now. But as families left for far away beaches, they stayed. A few Woodgrove underclassmen were supposed to be in exams Thursday morning. At the last minute, they asked teachers to move them.

Bowen and junior Emma Leszczak made sure the maneuvering paid off. The duo combined for 13 goals — seven and six, respectively — and launched the Wolverines into a 16-goal first half showing before they slowed their shooting in the second.

The win propels Woodgrove into the 5A state title game against rival and neighbor Loudoun Valley, which the Wolverines have faced three times this year. Initially scheduled for Saturday, weather concerns led the Virginia High School League to push all state finals back to Sunday. For Woodgrove, the timing doesn’t matter anymore anyway.

“Being in the state title game and playing your rivals? It doesn’t get better than that,” captain Kira Dabrowski said. “It’s going to be such a tough game, and we know them so well, but it’s states. It’s supposed to be tough.”

Chelsea Janes covers the Nationals for The Washington Post.
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