No first-quarter jitters for the South County Stallions.
The boys lacrosse team from Lorton spent the first 90 seconds of Friday’s Class 6 state quarterfinal game probing the Colonial Forge defense for any sign of weakness. Then the Stallions launched a barrage of shots at Eagles’ star goalkeeper Anthony Merida (15 to be exact) and forged a 7–1 lead after 12 minutes of play. The shots kept coming (48 in total) as South County advanced by virtue of its 20–10 victory.
“It was a good team win,” admitted junior attacker Jackson Phillips, who finished with five assists and two goals. “We were looking to push transition and push when there were odd-man situations, feeding the ball in the crease for nice easy layups.
“We came in to win because we have been in this situation before and we’re ready to take it [a state title] home this year,” Phillips said. Next Tuesday or Wednesday, the Stallions (14–9–1) will play at Oakton, which defeated defending Class 6 state champion W.T. Woodson in its quarterfinal contest.
The Eagles (14–5) scored on all four of their second-quarter shots to close to 10–5 at halftime. They continued their momentum with Gavin Granger netting his second of three goals in the second minute of play in the third quarter. South County answered right back with six unanswered goals to pull away.
“I knew they were going to be a difficult team for us to play. I thought we would show up earlier,” said Eagles coach Phillip Tant, who will lose 13 players to graduation. “In the second half, our guys didn’t have it in the tanks for the most part. ... When we have to compete against the upper echelon teams, we get exposed at times.”
Six different players scored the Stallions’ first six goals. Jack Arsenault led the way with six goals, while Ryan Coleman had four goals and two assists.
“Guys were fired up and played unselfish,” Stallions coach Dale Nalls said. “We shot the ball really well, which was surprising because the Forge goalie is really outstanding. We thought really high of him; he just had a bad first quarter.”
Merida finished with 14 saves. Besides Granger’s three goals and one assist, Brandon Sizemore had two goals and two assists, Tyler Howard chipped in with a goal and four assists, Drew Fields scored twice and Willie Berris and Sloan Partanen accounted for the remaining goals.
The Eagles’ defense suffered a blow late in the first quarter when senior starter Matthew Stocks when taken by ambulance to the hospital after suffering a broken right fibula due to a collision with the Stallions’ Arsenault.
“This was my last game here and it is a hard feeling,” said the 5-foot-3, 120-pound Sizemore, who is noted for his quickness and willingness to mix it up with larger opponents. “We came out flat and we never recovered from it. They kept pounding and pounding us.”
While praising his team’s willingness to grind through games and work hard in practice, Tant admitted one deficiency that contributed to the Eagles’ undoing.
“We haven’t been able to put together four strong quarters,” he said. “Our goal is to try to score five goals the first quarter of every game. Today they did a much better job of controlling the ball than we did.”