Bulldogs’ strong finish leads to title
STONE BRIDGE 15, POTOMAC FALLS 12
Laughter was the only reaction to the question surrounding the first girls’ lacrosse state title in Stone Bridge history: “Did you think this was even possible?”
At the season’s onset, all signs pointed to a rebuilding movement in Ashburn, a period of “growing pains” following the graduation of 13 seniors in 2014. And early on, as the Bulldogs stumbled to a 2-6 start to the season, those expectations seemed to align with reality.
Even after Saturday’s 15-12 win over Loudoun rival Potomac Falls in the 5A state final at Lake Braddock, the Bulldogs’ improbable run to a title reverberated throughout the roster.
“We barely thought we’d make it to conferences, so it was kind of a shock to come out here,” sophomore Maria Keener said.
But reinvigorated by an upset victory over Marshall on April 20 — a win that came without Kendall Fitzgerald, the team’s leading scorer — Stone Bridge upset Tuscarora in the Conference 14 semifinals and advanced to last week’s 5A North region final, which it dropped, 14-12, to the Panthers.
Fitzgerald netted a teamhigh five goals for Stone Bridge (12-7), while Keener and Hadley Killen tallied four times. Tori Birks led Potomac Falls (14-5) with four goals, and Molly DeCarli had a hat trick.
Potomac Falls had won two of the teams’ three previous matchups this season, but the Panthers’ high-tempo offense was thrown off-kilter by an early deficit. Buoyed by two Fitzgerald goals, the Bulldogs jumped out to a 3-0 lead in the first four minutes and led, 7-4, at halftime.
“We just got off to a slow start, we missed some shots that we should’ve made, and that would’ve made a world of difference,” Potomac Falls Coach Jim Birks said. “You just need to be ahead, it’s fun to be ahead and that didn’t happen.”
After the final whistle, Stone Bridge Coach Monika Guerrero locked Keener in a tight hug, and said: “Way to dominate that game, you did such a good job, and I’m so proud of you.”
The smiles only widened as the state title banner was presented, and that was only natural — Stone Bridge was still getting accustomed to the concept.
“This wasn’t even on the table for us,” Guerrero said.