The Falls Church High School boys varsity lacrosse team avenged its lone National District loss from the regular season and toppled Yorktown to claim the National District Tournament title last Friday night.
Junior Alex Nanthavong scored four goals, while juniors Connor Simmons and Nick Engquist each added two more in a 10-6 win. Senior Keith Long led the team’s play-making with five assists. He also tallied a goal that Falls Church Head Coach Geoff Young calls “one of the best I have ever seen in the sport,” curving a shot around the Yorktown goalie’s head.
“It had to have hooked about three feet,” Young said.
Junior goalie Paul Cossack recorded 13 saves for the Jaguars.
The victory over the Patriots is the pinnacle of a season that has seen the Jaguars evolve from a one-win team in 2007 into district champions. It also gives Falls Church a measure of revenge after Yorktown defeated the Jags 7-6 on April 28 to claim the National District regular season crown. In that contest the Jags were stifled by goalkeeper Sam Ridgely. This time Falls Church kept him off balance, altering their shot angles and moving the ball well in the offensive end. The latter factor was largely a credit to Long, according to Young.
“He really stepped up and played like he was supposed to,” Young said.
The regular season loss to Yorktown was one of just two on the 2008 season, with the other coming against highly-regarded lacrosse power Westfield just one game earlier.
Through the bad luck of the draw, the Jaguars found themselves matched up with Westfield, the fourth seed from the Concorde District in the opening round of the Northern Region tournament that got underway on May 13. There would be no revenge this time around however, as the seasoned Westfield squad marched to a 14-2 win.
“We were ready to play and coming in I really though we would have something for them,” Young said. “When you play good teams, you need to catch some breaks. We had our chances, we just didn’t execute and the ball bounced the wrong way a few times.”
The loss in the quarterfinals brings to an end the Jaguars’ remarkable season. Falls Church will look to replicate its success next spring, as the Jaguars will lose only four seniors — Keith Long, Mike Shallant, Mynor Celis and Chi Chi Eap. While all four are captains, only two are starters.
“I’m very pleased that the team made a commitment at the end of last year to be better and to compete at a higher level,” Young said. “They worked very hard on their skills and it really showed. They willed themselves out of tough situations and came together as a team and fed off each other. We had some very key injuries this year and it did not faze them. Other players stepped up and they got the job done.”