Leesburg, Va. — Winning a state championship is an impressive feat. Repeating as a state champion, even more so. But even as the thought of repeating sits in the back of their minds, the Riverside High School girls lacrosse team is focused on the game ahead.
The Rams quickly dispatched Park View in a region quarterfinal, before rolling through Loudoun Valley, 20-4, on May 21 in Leesburg, to set up a return to the VHSL Region 4C championship game.
“We have to keep things in perspective,” Riverside head coach Kristan Ash said. “It’s one step at a time.”
Riverside jumped out to a 4-0 lead in the first six minutes of their region semifinal, then expanded that lead to 15-2 heading into the half.
“Loudoun Valley is really well-coached team, and they have some really skilled players,” Ash said. “We knew we just had to come out of the gate and really perform, and our girls rose to the occasion.”
Nine of the Rams’ 15 first half goals came at the hands of returning all-region players Sydney Ash, Lilly Boswell, Keke Keyser, and Bryn McCaughey.
Ash, Boswell, and Keyser headline a core group of Riverside seniors that helped set the foundation of the Rams’ lacrosse program in 2016.
“We have an incredible senior class that gives us a lot of energy and passion on the field. They are so engaged,” Coach Ash said. “They take every opportunity to crank their game and energy up, and our young guys keep riding on that energy train.”
Over the last four years, Riverside has compiled a 62-8 record, including back-to-back-to-back 16-win seasons. In 2017, the Rams fell just short of state championship glory, before bringing the state title back to Loudoun in 2018.
“They gain a little bit of experience each year. If we lose, they learn something from it. We’re fueled by our failure,” Coach Ash said. “We lost to George Mason when we were just a two-year-old program, and our seniors have carried that with them. They knew exactly what we needed to adjust to move forward, which will really help us moving forward this year.”
In 2019, Riverside is as good as ever, currently sitting at 16-0. The Rams defense has posted three shutouts and the offense has scored 15 or more goals in all 16 of their games this spring. And for a team with two returning all-state midfielders, the Rams do a great job of spreading the ball around, as eleven different girls scored in the win over Loudoun Valley on May 21.
While Riverside has once again earned a berth to the state tournament, the Rams are taking things one step at a time. Of all the steps they’ll take this year, the region championship game will be their biggest challenge yet as they host Dominion on May 23 in Leesburg.
In their 16 games this year, only two teams came within ten points of the Rams, and only one – the Dominion Titans – gave Riverside a run: a 16-14 loss on May 3.
“It will definitely be a very competitive game. We just have to show up,” Coach Ash said. “When we played Dominion during the regular season, we were down by several goals, and we were able to dig deep, find our game, and come back strong. I’ll bet on these girls.”
|1H||16:00||Loudoun Valley||Gillian Krug||4-1|
|1H||0:47||Loudoun Valley||Carlea Dawson||15-2|
|2H||13:22||Loudoun Valley||Gabriella Haiz||17-3|
|2H||9:43||Loudoun Valley||Kylie Leigh||17-4|