Nathan Miller got an early taste of the Virginia state tournament as a freshman on Annandale’s 2008 varsity team. He’s spent the past three seasons trying to get back.

Tuesday in an AAA Northern Region semifinal matchup with two-time defending state champion Langley, the senior all-American made sure his 12 classmates will experience the state tournament for themselves. With a four-goal barrage in the opening five minutes, Miller sparked the Atoms (15-2) to an elusive state tournament berth with a 12-8 victory.

“We wanted to smack ’em in the mouth from the beginning and not let them breathe,” Miller said. “Scoring those quick goals really made them question themselves. That was exactly what we wanted to do.”

Bob Stevens ripped an underhanded shot from midfield to give Annandale a stunning 7-1 lead after the first quarter. Langley pulled to 11-8 on Sean Ahearn’s goal with 6:37 remaining but could not complete the comeback. Miller finished with six goals and senior defender Peter Hagen — Miller’s lone remaining teammate from the 2008 team — scored a nifty goal to compliment his gritty defense against Langley’s vaunted attack.

“This is where we wanted to be all season,” Miller said. “These are my brothers I’ve played with my entire life and we just want to keep playing.”

In the first semifinal of the night, Chantilly outshot West Springfield 21-4 in the first half and held off a late Spartans rally to claim a 14-7 win and advance to Thursday’s final against Annandale. Junior Luke Bowers scored two of his three goals on loose balls and senior Craig Penman added three tallies for the Chargers (18-1). West Springfield and Langley (15-3) will battle for the final spot in the state tournament in Thursday’s consolation game.

Madison, Oakton win

Clinging to a one-goal lead with nearly four minutes left in the girls’ semifinal against fifth-ranked Chantilly, Madison sophomore goalkeeper Taylor Rivera-Silva watched as the region’s leading scorer, the Chargers’ Kacey Norwood, made a run on net.

It was a scary proposition but Rivera-Silva made the save, stopping a rocket shot from Norwood, that preserved No. 10 Madison’s 15-14 win in Fairfax and earned the Warhawks a berth in the state tournament.

“You don’t really think when you save the ball,” Rivera-Silva said of her final save. “You just attack it and do the best you can. And my defense really gave me the shot that I wanted.”

After building an early five-goal lead, the Warhawks (18-0) had to regroup when the Chargers (17-2) stormed back to take their first lead of the game, 13-12, off a Norwood goal with nearly ten minutes left.

In the other semifinal, Oakton junior Carly Palmucci had a game-high four goals as the Cougars built a comfortable 9-4 halftime lead and held on to beat defending region champion Langley, 13-9.

Langley (13-5) will face Chantilly in a consolation game on Thursday at 5 p.m. at Oakton.