Sterling, Va. — When it looked as though the Freedom High School girls lacrosse team would pull away, Potomac Falls found a spark.
Facing a five-goal deficit with 18 minutes left, the Panthers rallied off six unanswered goals to steal the lead and the momentum, 13-12, with less than six minutes to play in the VHSL Region 5C championship game on May 28 in Sterling.
“You can’t even think about winning with 18 minutes to go,” Freedom head coach Richard DeSomma said. “And they made their run.”
The Eagles were able to rebound with a goal and hold off the Panthers for the remainder of regulation, setting up a sudden victory overtime.
In the first overtime period, Potomac Falls won the faceoff and controlled possession but failed to get a legitimate shot attempt off, forcing double overtime.
It was in the second overtime period that Freedom took advantage, as sophomore attacker Allison Ohri scored the golden goal as the Eagles outlasted the Panthers, 14-13, to claim the VHSL Region 5C title.
“The girls are excited. It’s extremely hard to play a team three times in a year. We play them tough, they play us tough,” said DeSomma, who was named the Potomac District Coach of the Year. “It wasn’t our best game, but we managed to get it done. We’re just grateful to be moving on.”
Less than a minute into the game, Freedom took the lead when junior midfielder Emily Maier found the back of the net. Potomac Falls sophomore Mason Whitmore answered the Eagles’ goal less than two minutes later to even things out at 1-1.
Then Freedom went on a tear. Over the next ten minutes, the Eagles scored four goals in a row and held a 5-1 lead until the 6:15 mark in the first half.
However, despite the early offensive effort by Freedom, the Panthers wouldn’t go away. Led by Whitmore’s five first-half goals, Potomac Falls chipped away at the Eagles’ lead until they cut it to just 7-5.
After the teams traded goals with less than two minutes to play in the first half, it looked as though the Eagles would take an 8-6 lead into the half, however, with seven seconds left the Panthers were hit with a violation, setting up a last second goal by junior midfielder Julia Riley to extend the Freedom lead to 9-6.
Trailing 9-6, Potomac Falls junior defender Abigail Detorie opened the scoring just two-and-a-half minutes into the second half. Freedom, however, had an immediate and powerful response as sophomore attacker Caroline Angelus, senior attacker Grace Pelletier, and Riley all scored to extend the Eagles’ lead to 12-7.
It was then that Potomac Falls rallied off six straight goals – including three straight by sophomore midfielder Claire Harris – to eventually force the overtime periods.
For Freedom, the win means a first round bye in the VHSL 5A State girls lacrosse tournament, as the Eagles await the winner of the game between Potomac Falls and Patrick Henry-Roanoke.
The win also means that a win in their semifinal game on June 4 will propel the Eagles back to the VHSL 5A State championship game, where they won it all in 2018.
But this Freedom team is, of course, different than last year’s state championship team, and while the Eagles have high hopes, they also recognize the magnitude of what they’ve already accomplished this spring.
“We have six girls returning from the state championship and six new girls added to that,” DeSomma said. “It’s very hard to continue your success when you have a mix like that. To come this far with a group like that is in itself amazing.”
|1H||22:34||Potomac Falls||Mason Whitmore||1-1|
|1H||6:15||Potomac Falls||Mason Whitmore||5-2|
|1H||5:42||Potomac Falls||Mason Whitmore||6-3|
|1H||3:23||Potomac Falls||Julia Badolato||7-4|
|1H||2:22||Potomac Falls||Mason Whitmore||7-5|
|1H||0:32||Potomac Falls||Mason Whitmore||8-6|
|2H||22:32||Potomac Falls||Abigail Detorie||9-7|
|2H||17:40||Potomac Falls||Julia Badolato||12-8|
|2H||16:33||Potomac Falls||Abigail Detorie||12-9|
|2H||13:07||Potomac Falls||Madelyn DeCarli||12-10|
|2H||12:13||Potomac Falls||Claire Harris||12-11|
|2H||8:26||Potomac Falls||Claire Harris||12-12|
|2H||6:06||Potomac Falls||Claire Harris||12-13|