Ashburn, Va (May 21, 2016) – A post-game Gatorade bath in front of the home crowd was especially refreshing for Coach Scott Mitchell on a warm Thursday evening.
A four-goal fourth quarter propelled the Stone Bridge lacrosse team to a 9-7 victory over cross-town rival Briar Woods in the Conference 14 title game on May 19. The win helped the Bulldogs stay perfect on the season and marked the 100th career win for Mitchell in Ashburn.
“It’s one of those things, against a team like Briar Woods that I have a connection to because I know all the kids, I taught a lot of those kids when they were in middle school, I know a lot of those kids from coaching around the area, I know the coaching staff over there very well, so to get it against them is special,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell, who also teaches math, chose to not even tell his team prior to the game that he was seeking a century-mark worth of wins, wanting the focus to be on winning the conference and taking down a tough rival. Many of the players first learned of the achievement when the PA announcer broke the news as the game went final.
“It’s kind of a nice personal accomplishment, I’m more proud of what they did today in the whole grand scheme of things though,” Mitchell said.
It has been quite a run for the Bulldog program over the past year. Under the helm of Mitchell, the squad has not lost a game since April of 2015 and won the Virginia 5A state championship last season, taking down Atlee 10-9 last June.
The defending state champs are ranked No. 5 in the Washington Post All-Met poll and will be putting their undefeated season on the line as they head into the playoffs later this month, looking to bring another trophy back to the Dog Pound.
“Winning a state championship or even going to the state playoffs, that would be great, right now we have to play someone from the Fairfax North, that I’m starting to scout right now,” Mitchell said.
The success of Mitchell and the Bulldogs extends well beyond just the past year, however. This is Mitchell’s ninth season in Ashburn and the program has continued to improve throughout his tenure. This is the squads’ eighth straight wining season and the third straight conference title, having lost just four games over the past three years.
According to Mitchell, this years’ team is as strong as any he has had at Stone Bridge, which is high praise for a program coming off a state title.
“Right at the top, I would say that because the leadership and work ethic that they have,” Mitchell said. “There’s a lot of talent but talent only takes you so far, hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard, and these guys work hard.”
The Bulldogs are led by a solid senior class with guys like Cade Groton, Noah Madgwick and Thomas Radford. With the Bulldogs trailing the Falcons by one goal in the fourth quarter on Thursday prior to the four-goal surge, the seniors helped propel the team to victory.
“We have a strong senior class who is battle tested from a lot of tough games last year in the playoffs, so they kind of understood the situation and we’ve been in tight games,” Mitchell said. “I honestly didn’t say much, the seniors did a good job of saying ‘it’s just one goal, relax.’”
Those seniors may not have been aware of the 100 wins prior to the game against Briar Woods, but they were certainly proud to be a part of the moment during the post-game celebration.
“It means a lot,” Groton said, “we’ve worked really hard for him the past four years, and to be able to give that to him means a lot, he’s changed all of our lives for the better and he’s made us all better young men.”
The dominance of the Bulldogs over the past several years is thanks in large part to the strong play of the current senior class, which has given them a sense of confidence with the playoffs approaching.
“Just keep doing what were doing,” Radford said, “hard work, stick work, teamwork, that’s our mantra, we’ll keep saying it forever. I know we have what it takes because we did it last year and I know we have what it takes to repeat.”
Although repeating as champions is important, it isn’t everything for the Bulldogs.
“Our goal isn’t to win states, our goal is just to get better every day,” Madgwick said.
Madgwick, who has a special connection with Mitchell because his father, Dave, is an assistant coach with the team, was particularly excited to be a part of the historic 100th win.
“It’s a great experience, being a part of the program for so long, my dad being a coach, I feel close to him [Mitchell] and I’m so happy for him, I’m glad it came with me on the program,” Madgwick said.
Mitchell is certainly pleased with the accomplishment, but the 100 wins are not what will put the biggest smile on his face going forward.
“Of all the things I’m proud of, I’m most proud of the young men that come out of this program, the individuals that we’re able to help turn into young men,” Mitchell said. “So I’m most proud, big picture, of the 80 or 90 or 100 different kids I got to coach more than the 100 wins that I’ve got.”
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Written by Josh Apple
Special to Viva Loudoun
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