The motto on the back of Westfield’s warmup shirts this season was worth a double take. “Sic Semper Tyrannis” carries the weight of a whole lot more history than your typical girls’ lacrosse team motto.
But the words hold a place on the Virginia state flag, and atop the state was where the Bulldogs wanted to end up. The phrase — which means “thus always to tyrants” — was fitting for a Westfield team that knew it must knock traditional powers off the throne to get there.
Motivated by history in Sunday’s Virginia 6A state final at Lake Braddock, the Bulldogs wrote their own, downing four-time state champion Oakton, 13-11, to win their first girls’ lacrosse state title.
“We had kind of a ‘down with the tyrants’ theme for our season: We wanted to take down the big players like Oakton and Madison,” senior Meghan Heick said. “We feel like we’re always the underdogs and no one recognizes us. . . we wanted to be like ‘Hey guys, we’re here!’ ”
Heick announced the Bulldogs’ presence 13 seconds into the game, taking the opening faceoff to goal and giving Westfield (18-3) an early lead. She did the same with the first faceoff of the second half, though that time only took eight seconds.
At one point a Westfield assistant coach looked out on a momentarily stagnant Bulldogs offense with concern and called out “We need a play!”
Then Heick burst through three Oakton defenders and scored. The Westfield coaches just laughed. As she was all season, Heick was often the only play the Bulldogs needed Sunday.
“Meghan had the game of her life,” Westfield Coach Katie Ruchs said. “So that definitely helped.”
Oakton withstood and pushed back against Westfield’s siege, rallying from four goals down to tie the game at points in the second half. But Heick (five goals) was too speedy and fellow senior Molly O’Sullivan (three) was too adept around the crease. The Cougars (15-3), who beat Westfield in the conference and region finals, could not slow them enough to take a lead.
Lydia Montanino led the Cougars’ attack with four goals, but Westfield freshman goalie Abby Smith made several big saves in the final minutes to seal the win.
O’Sullivan said the Bulldogs didn’t feel the state banner was within reach until they got past Madison, which hadn’t lost to Virginia 6A North competition in more than a year. But when Westfield earned a dramatic overtime win vs. the defending champions in the region semifinal, Oakton was the last tyrant left to topple.
“Oakton’s always a great team,” O’Sullivan said. “It feels amazing to beat them and get the respect we deserve.”