Rams re­sist stout charge by Cougars

ROBIN­SON 16, OAK­TON 12

The Washington Post Sunday - - SPORTS - BY MARK GIANNOTTO mark.giannotto@wash­post.com

The fi­nal game of this his­toric Robin­son girls’ lacrosse sea­son started out like so many be­fore it. The Rams’ attack clicked on all cylin­ders, with goals com­ing al­most as fast as the pre­ced­ing pass ar­rived in the net of their sticks. The heavy fa­vorites seemed to be cruis­ing again.

But th­ese Rams would soon need to call on the sort of re­solve they have rarely had to muster, and ul­ti­mately it made the end re­sult that much sweeter.

Robin­son took Oak­ton’s best shot Satur­day in the Vir­ginia 6A state fi­nals at Lake Brad­dock, re­spond­ing with a late charge to se­cure a 16-12 win and cap­ture the school’s first state cham­pi­onship in girls’ lacrosse since 2003.

Sopho­more Katie Check­oskey found class­mate Elli Kluegel for the even­tual game-win­ner af­ter Oak­ton had cut Robin­son’s lead to one with a five-goal spurt in the sec­ond half. The Rams (21-1), who fin­ished this sea­son un­de­feated against public school com­pe­ti­tion, scored four of the game’s fi­nal five goals once the Cougars threat­ened to pull off the un­likely up­set.

“We de­cided that this is the mo­ment when we had to turn it on,” Kluegel said of those crit­i­cal mo­ments. “We weren’t go­ing to lose. It wasn’t an op­tion.”

This victory is the cul­mi­na­tion of Robin­son’s rebuild un­der Coach Liz Case. The Rams are just two sea­sons re­moved from fin­ish­ing with an un­der .500 record.

Se­nior All-Met Izzy Obre­gon scored four goals and Check­oskey added three goals and five as­sists. Kluegel and se­nior Mackenzie Schuler also had hat tricks, while Kaitlin Luc­carelli chipped in with four points.

But the coro­na­tion did not begin early, not when Oak­ton (12-7) re­fused to give in fac­ing a 9-3 half­time deficit. Over a seven-minute span mid­way through the sec­ond half, the Cougars un­ex­pect­edly seized con­trol. Con­sec­u­tive goals by Ly­dia Mon­tanino and a free po­si­tion goal by se­nior Kelsey McWil­liams trimmed Robin­son’s lead to 11-10 and forced Case to call time­out.

Case then looked around the Rams’ hud­dle and asked: “Do you want a state ti­tle?” It was then that the heart of this cham­pion fi­nally emerged.

“That was very nerve wrack­ing, but it made it more fun,” Schuler said. “I wanted to go out with a bang and that’s what we did. I couldn’t be hap­pier.”

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