Raiders stopped in fi­nal

Free­dom pulls out vic­tory on goal with 2:10 to play

Richmond Times-Dispatch Weekend - - HIGH SCHOOL CHAMPIONSHIPS - BY TIM PEARRELL

The Rich­mond area keeps get­ting tan­ta­liz­ingly close to a VHSL lacrosse ti­tle, but the break­through will have to wait an­other year.

Atlee’s girls lost 9-8 to Free­dom-South Rid­ing (Loudoun) in a back-and­forth game that fea­tured some stel­lar goal­tend­ing in the Class 5 cham­pi­onship game at Deep Run on Satur­day. Free­dom got the de­ci­sive goal from Rachael Bean with 2:10 to play with the Raiders two play­ers down.

Free­dom (19-4), the Re­gion C run­ner-up, got pos­ses­sion of the draw and ran out the clock, end­ing Atlee’s bid for an un­beaten sea­son (15-1) and the area’s first boys or girls VHSL ti­tle since the league in­sti­tuted lacrosse cham­pi­onships in 2006.

Atlee’s boys had ex­pe­ri­enced a sim­i­lar heartache, los­ing in the 5A state fi­nal in 2015, ’16 and ’17, all by a goal.

“[Win­ning cham­pi­onships] kind of comes from ex­pe­ri­ence and lead­er­ship, peo­ple who have been there be­fore,” said Atlee coach Christina

Dob­son, whose team was in its first state cham­pi­onship game.

“We had an ex­cel­lent sea­son, but were we to­tally re­ally men­tally, emo­tion­ally, for this game? Maybe not. That’s some­thing next year we’ll have to build on, this ex­pe­ri­ence. It makes me kind of hope­ful for the fu­ture of our pro­gram that now they have this to build on.”

Atlee, the Re­gion B champ, rolled through its reg­u­lar-sea­son sched­ule but didn’t play a team out­side the area un­til the state play­offs. Its clos­est game was a 12-6 vic­tory over Deep Run.

Not re­ally be­ing tested and be­ing in a tight game, Dob­son said, was a con­cern that showed. The Raiders made some turnovers early.

“Since we had never been to this level, I think all of us were just re­ally ner­vous,” fresh­man Kate Miller said. “We were re­ally just anx­ious to start the game. I think the nerves kind of got the best of us at some points, and we didn’t play like we usu­ally do.”

Miller had five goals and two as­sists and coun­tered five goals from Free­dom sopho­more Emily Maier. Down 3-1 early, Atlee had a 5-4 lead when Free­dom’s Emily Licht­en­berg tied the game 6 sec­onds be­fore half­time.

Nei­ther team could pull ahead by more than a goal in the sec­ond half as goalies Stella Har­ri­son of Atlee and Araya McNeal came up with big saves. McNeal made sev­eral close-range stops that kept the Raiders from gain­ing mo­men­tum.

Reaghan Kolb had two goals for Atlee. Mor­gan Koeneke, set­ting up Maier, had five as­sists for Free­dom.

Atlee has only three se­niors — Faith Anna, Kel­lyn McGlamery and Emily Karn — but all are key play­ers.

“I don’t be­lieve that this is the end of us com­ing back,” Miller said. “I think that we will be here next year and for years to come. I think that we want it so bad, and we have so many great girls and a great coach, that I think we’ll be back soon. I have no doubt.”

ALEXA WELCH EDLUND/TIMES-DIS­PATCH

Ash­ley Karn (left) hugs Emily Karn af­ter Atlee lost to Free­dom-South Rid­ing in the Class 5 girls lacrosse state fi­nal Satur­day.

Class 5 girls lacrosse fi­nal FREE­DOM-SO.RIDING9, ATLEE 8

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