Leesburg, Va. — It took the Riverside High School boys lacrosse team just 10 seconds to get on the board. Fifteen seconds after that the Rams had a 2-0 lead. And before three full minutes had elapsed, Riverside had extended its lead to 3-0. For the Rams, there was no looking back.
Riverside had been here before. A state championship environment was nothing new to them having won VHSL state titles in both 2017 and 2019. But this year was different.
Like everyone else Riverside missed its 2020 season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and as recently as three months ago, there were concerns their spring 2021 season could be wiped out as well.
So when the Rams got the opportunity to suit up in 2021, they made a promise to each other they’d make the most of it.
That 3-0 start to the game allowed Riverside to steal any and all momentum and keep that promise to each other. As the final horn blew, the Rams dogpiled their goalie after defeating Douglas Freeman, 22-5, to claim the VHSL 5A State title on June 26 in Leesburg.
“It’s the best feeling in the world,” Riverside senior attack Carter Ash said. “I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else; these are my brothers.”
Ash helped get the scoring started when he assisted junior midfielder Evan Boswell on the goal 10 seconds into the game.
“We knew they were a good team,” Ash said. “But we felt we were a better team, especially in transition, so we wanted to come out quick.”
Ash scored one himself just 15 seconds after his assist to Boswell. Before the first half had ended, Ash had found the back of the net five times, helping the Rams extend their lead to 9-3.
“He’s locked in,” Riverside head coach Nick Worek said. “You can’t ask for a better leader or a tougher kid than Carter Ash. He’s got it all.”
With Ash locked in, the Rams looked like they’d coast through the second half, but to start the second half, it looked like the Mavericks had other plans. As Riverside had done in the first half, Freeman senior faceoff specialist Charlie Martin scooped up a ground ball and took it himself, scoring just 8 seconds into the second half.
However, over the course of the next 23 minutes, 52 seconds, the Rams’ defense wouldn’t even bend, much less break, allowing just one more goal before the clock struck 0:00.
“Our defense was so fired up just to get stops every time,” Worek said. “It was a tremendous effort.”
While the defense kept the Mavericks off the board, the Rams’ offense continued to pile it on. Ash added two more goals in the second half to finish with a game-high 7, while junior attack Cole Jones added four more to his five-goal tally. In total, the Rams had nine different players score, and had a running clock not been in place continuously since just after the 3-minute mark in the third quarter, the damage probably would have been much worse.
“We knew we had something cooking with the kids coming into our program,” Worek said. “But to win three of the last [four contended]state championship games is just unbelievable.”
And what made the win even more special was to do it in front of their hometown crowd. The Riverside faithful showed up in droves, filling the home stands with a sea of white, as the Rams got to celebrate their newest state championship with their friends and family in their own backyard.
“It was like a football game [environment],” Worek said. “Seeing the community walk to the games and everyone caring about this team, it is pretty special.”
|1Q||8:35||Douglas Freeman||Gavin Jones||3-1|
|1Q||1:52||Douglas Freeman||Dell Vidunas||6-2|
|2Q||7:41||Douglas Freeman||Gavin Jones||7-3|
|3Q||11:52||Douglas Freeman||Charlie Martin||9-4|
|3Q||3:18||Douglas Freeman||Dell Vidunas||16-5|