Sometimes in winning a state tournament, the champion will be fortunate enough to face maybe an inferior opponent or two.
The Madison Warhawks weren’t so lucky en route to winning the eight-team Virginia High School League’s Class 6 eight-team boys lacrosse tournament, having to finish 3-0 against high-quality opponents in all road matches, defeating the defending champion and 2021 runner-up and two region champions along the way.
The Warhawks (19-4) won the state crown June 11 at John Champe High School in Aldie by topping the Battlefield Bobcats, 8-5, in the tile match. The Bobcats (18-4) also finished second last spring.
In the first round, Madison nipped Occoquan Region champion West Potomac (16-6), 10-9, in overtime. In the semifinals, the Warhawks topped the defending champion and 6D North Region 2022 tourney winner Yorktown Patriots (17-4) by a 10-7 final.
“No, it wasn’t an easy road, that’s for sure,” Madison coach Aaron Solomon said. “In 2019 we made history by winning our first state title. This season, no one but us expected us to win it again. But this team made so much progress since the start of the season, our players got real hungry and their energy was nonstop. We wanted to improve at least one percent every practice and game.”
The Warhawks also were good at finishing strong in the state tourney.
Against Battlefield in the final, the score was tied at 4 halftime. Madison scored the first four goals of the second half to pull away enough to win.
The Warhawks also had strong second-half performances against West Potomac and Yorktown, not allowing many goals in the final two quarters.
“We are a second-half team, and defense is our anchor,” Solomon said.
Will Rubley scored three of Madison’s goals in the state final and had one assist. Leo Steiner had two goals, and Mark Rubley, Toby Kuhns and Ollie Hau one each. The twin Rubley brothers each had one assist.
Eric Jones made multiple saves in goal for the Warhawks.
Tyler Whittle was a senior midfielder for Madison. He said the Warhawks were well-prepared for the state tournament because of many difficult opponents the team played and situations they faced leading up to the competition.
“All of those experiences built up and helped us in the end,” Whittle said. “We learned from that, and that made us ready for states. Plus, we believed all season. From the start, it was all about a state championship.”
Whittle said defeating Yorktown in the semifinals was the biggest hurdle. Madison lost to Yorktown just days earlier in the region final, plus was defeated during the regular season by that team.
In the state semifinal, Madison took a 1-0 lead and was able to control a slower tempo for much of the match. The score was tied at 4 at halftime. Yorktown had leads in the match, but never of more than one goal.
Yorktown’s last lead was 5-4 in the third period. Madison answered with four straight goals to move in front for good at 8-5. The Patriots rallied to within 8-7, were whistled for a 1-minute penalty with 2:23 to play and didn’t score again.
“Our goals coming into this game were to take the first shot and score the first goal, and we did that,” Solomon said. “We had a lot of motivation after losing to them twice earlier. When we got behind, we stayed resilient and came back.”
Will Rubley scored Madison’s first goal of the match. The team leader in goals was Mark Rubley with four. Will Rubley scored two goals and had two assists. Ethan Do, Jake Green, Caleb Smith and Whittle had a goal each for Madison, with Do and Carter Casto having assists.
Jones made multiple saves in goal and was helped by the defensive play of Ethan Hodge, Gavin Levay, Daniel Jacobs and Carter Casto.
Against West Potomac, Green scored the winning goal in overtime. Green scored four goals. Ethan Hodge had two goals and one assist, Will Rubley netted two goals, Carter Casto had one goal and three assists, Mark Rubley scored a goal and Do had two assists.
Jones made numerous key saves in goal to keep Madison in the game.