The Woodgrove girls made quite a run last spring — they went unbeaten to win the Virginia AA Dulles District, reached the Region II final and fell by a single goal in the state quarterfinals. And when you consider they did all that as a first-year school with nary a senior on the roster, the feat is all the more impressive.
But it was not until a lengthy lightning delay midway through their Region II title game against Western Albemarle that Coach Bob Fuller’s young Wolverines truly began to realize the magnitude of their accomplishments.
“All of a sudden, they realized how well we’d done,” Fuller said. “And I think they finally showed some nerves in the state quarterfinal — that was the first time I’d seen it all year.”
Now, with everyone back from last year’s team and the starting lineup intact, the Wolverines (4-2, 4-0) are determined to improve on last year’s mark — and they’re counting on a few of the area’s top teams to help them get there. Woodgrove has already played Stone Bridge and St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes and will likely face 2010 state champion Western Albemarle early next month. And while they may not come away with victories, the games give the Wolverines a taste of what will come in the state tournament where group AA and AAA teams vie for the same title.
“My girls have to see the level at which those teams play in order to aspire to that,” Fuller said. “We’ve got to experience that level to be able to beat those types of teams.”
The one-two punch of seniors Ellen Fuller (20 goals, 11 assists) and Ashlyn Dacey (17 goals) is once again leading the way offensively for Woodgrove, which has scored at least 10 goals in all but one game. And interchangeable juniors Olivia Becker, Audrey Moentmann, Roni Salamone and Nicole Devenoge — who Fuller calls “The Four Musketeers” — provide versatility that will be an asset down the stretch.
Woodgrove’s 13-12 overtime win over Purcellville rival Loudoun Valley on Friday could signal another thrilling finish to the district race. Last year the Wolverines edged Freedom-South Riding in a battle of unbeatens to claim the league title. This time it looks like three teams — Woodgrove, Loudoun Valley and Loudoun County — could all be in the running in the final week of the season. That should make for a wild first week of May when the Wolverines host Valley and then visit County in a four-day stretch to end the regular season.
“It could absolutely be a repeat of last year where everything is on the line that final week,” Fuller said. “It’s going to be a very fun, challenging end to the season, but I think these girls are ready for anything.” ...
Langley gave Madison one of its toughest tests during the Warhawks’ unbeaten run to a Virginia state title last year. On Friday the Saxons (6-1) flipped the script from that 13-11 defeat, knocking off the defending champs 13-11 to snap Madison’s 26-game winning streak. The victory capped an impressive week that opened with Langley’s last-minute 13-12 win over previously unbeaten Westfield.
Centreville’s 14-13 upset of then-No. 10 Oakton further muddied the waters in a wide-open Northern Region where four teams — Centreville, Langley, Madison, Oakton, Stone Bridge, Westfield and West Springfield — have only one loss within the region, all by three goals or fewer.
Linganore crashed the party at the Maryland boys’ lacrosse playoffs last spring, becoming the first Frederick County team to take home a state title. With the thrilling 13-12 win over South River in the 4A/3A final, the Lancers instantly earned a new place in the discussion about the state’s best programs — and the expectations that come along with it.
“It’s pressure that we’re glad to have,” Coach Rich Thompson said. “We’re not going to sneak up on anybody, ever because of that [state champion] label. Now we have to work even harder to prove that it wasn’t just a one-time thing.”
One month into its repeat bid, Linganore continues to grow into the role of favorite. After Tuesday’s 11-7 home loss against Westminster, the Lancers are 6-2 and still building toward the form that delivered 15 straight wins to close last season.
Linganore brought back 18 of 30 players off last season’s squad but had to replace second-team All-Met Michael Kenski, who scored the game-winning goal in the state final, and Alex Daly, one of the area’s top face-off men. While those departures have left plenty of minutes for newcomers, Thompson said the transition has been eased by the fact that most of them saw at least some varsity action during last season’s run.
Rice, a quick 5-foot-6 attackman, scored five goals in last season’s final, while Thompson, who will play football at Monmouth next fall, offers a physical presence around the goal. Tischler (Swarthmore) had not allowed more than six goals in a game this season before Tuesday’s loss.
Even the coaches are adjusting to slightly different roles. Last season Stan Aldridge handled head coaching duties with Thompson as an assistant. The Lancers returned the same staff this season, but Aldridge, whose son Matt graduated last spring, switched titles with Thompson.
“It’s always a challenge to live up to expectations after a season like we had last year,” Thompson said. “We’ve had our struggles, but we’re starting to gel a little bit more as a team.” ....
As the Interstate Athletic Conference regular season rolls into its final two weeks, No. 5 Bullis (9-3, 2-0) stands as the only team without a conference loss. The Bulldogs have won seven of their last eight overall, including their first win in program history over No. 6 Landon on April 5. Landon (7-5, 1-1), No. 2 St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (10-2, 1-1) and No. 7 Georgetown Prep (10-4, 2-1) each have one loss in IAC play.
For most of the league’s history, finishing with the best regular season record assured at least a partial share of the title, but last season the rule was changed to award the crown outright to the tournament winner. Even though Landon had a perfect regular season in conference, third-seeded Georgetown Prep took the title when it upset the Bears in the tournament final.