By Owen Gotimer
Viva Loudoun College Editor
Leesburg (May 21, 2014) – Nearly 60 years ago, Loudoun County High School opened up its hallways to students becoming the first public high school in Loudoun County. Since then the Raiders have had athletic highs – wrapping up numerous athletic championships including at the Virginia State level – and lows, but since 1954 one LCHS athletic element has remained the same: the school’s football field.
As high schools around the county build new turf playing fields, Loudoun County High School and athletic director Ken Wright – who remembered playing on the field when he was in the seventh grade – are moving away from the old and straight towards the new. On Aug. 15, the Raiders’ 2014 football team will get to step foot on the new LCHS turf football field.
“It’s going to make the facility more accessible to the community,” Wright said. “When we get years like this year where it doesn’t seem to ever stop raining, our facilities are going to be available. Just to get the facelift that we really need is going to be enjoyable.”
The facelift will include a new turf football field and renovations to the baseball and softball fields and outdoor athletic buildings.
“Everybody’s really excited. We know we have to pay a price taking all of our playoff games from tonight on to other places,” Wright said. “I have to really take my hat off to the community. They’re really understanding that this is something that is necessary to get our facility up to the level that we wanted.”
On May 20, the Raiders’ celebrated their senior nights in front of a packed audience as the softball, baseball and girls soccer, wrapped up their regular seasons with wins as the boys lacrosse team fell to Woodgrove in the Dulles Group semifinals during that last game that will ever be played on the old Loudoun County High School field.
The Loudoun County baseball team has flown under the radar for most of the 2014 season, but five Raiders seniors have led the blue-and-gold to a 10-10 season including two wins over Woodgrove High School, a win over crosstown rival Heritage High School and a come from behind 6-5 win over Dominion High School on senior night. Patrick Carty, Kyle Cicalese, Todd Duerbeck, Nick Murdock and Matt Thomas filled a variety of roles during their time within the Raiders’ program including a leadership role during the transition to a new head coach in Nick Price.
“We had a good group of seniors here this year. They came in determined to try and change the culture here and really leave on a high note,” Price said. “I was really pleased with their effort tonight, and they didn’t quit on anybody. Our pitcher struggled early, and we came and picked him up there.”
In the bottom of the second inning, Raider senior Patrick Carty smashed a line drive double over the centerfielder’s head and two batters later senior Kyle Cicalese dropped a floater into centerfielder plating Carty.
“It’s my last time playing on this field with all the renovations. Getting that rally started was pretty big,” Carty said.
The Raiders’ pitching staff struggled to find the zone throughout the beginning of the game, but once they settled down the Loudoun County bats came alive, and the biggest rally of the game came in the bottom of the sixth inning when junior catcher Zack Costello hit a lead off double.
“It meant a lot that I got to help the team. Glad we got this last win,” Costello said. “We had already clinched our playoff spot but we wanted to get the last win on the last day on our field.”
On May 23, the Raiders will take on James Wood – a team they played in a scrimmage prior to the season’s start – in the first round of the Conference 21 tournament.
“These kids have been playing together their whole lives, growing up in the youth league,” Price said. “We’re a family here, and I think it’s finally starting to set in that if we play together, we’re a tough team to beat out there.”
Loudoun County beat Dominion, 6-5.
In the bottom of the fourth inning during Loudoun County’s softball senior night, senior third baseman Brittney Platt celebrated her night with a three-run homerun right down the left field line as the Raiders cruised to an easy 10-1 win over the Dominion Titans.
“It means a whole lot especially on senior night,” Platt said. “It just feels amazing to be able to help my team out.”
Before the at-bat, Loudoun County head coach Richard Sullivan apparently told Platt to “come out of her shoes swinging” because she had been struggling at the plate.
“She did it. That should get her back on track. You just need a little confidence. You can’t ask for a better senior night than that,” Sullivan said.
The Raiders honored the graduating seniors – Courtney Amos, Sarah Fadeley, Kayleigh Kent and Brittney Platt – by wearing custom, handmade jerseys and by getting the victory.
“We really wanted to make sure we won our last two this week heading into the playoffs,” Sullivan said. “We had a rocky start at the beginning of the year, but we’ve been playing really well since then. All we got to do is keep it rolling, try to stay healthy.”
Loudoun County beat Dominion, 10-1.
With their dominate win over the Dominion Titans on senior night, the Loudoun County girls soccer team earned the Dulles District title. Four different Raiders scored including senior Emily Beatty, junior Gabrielle Gillis, freshman Allison Malishka and freshman Emily Mothersbaugh. Senior goalkeeper Kelsey Slack earned the shutout for the Raiders.
“It’s really good the way we ended the season we went 51 goals and 11 against,” Loudoun County head coach Kirk Smith said. “When you end the season like that knowing that you’re starting to get healthy, it’s good, it’s good momentum.”
With the 4-0 victory, the Raiders improved to 14-2 on a night honoring their graduating seniors Madison Elsbernd, Shayla Hokland, Emily Beatty, Emma Toomer, Sydney Tegler, Elise LeVan and Kelsey Slack.
“This is a great group. This will be the second run in their four years. They went to states as freshmen and lost to Woodgrove in the finals,” Smith said. “In four years, they’ve gotten better and better. I was just telling them if your top scorer is held to a game without a goal, they’re some many girls on this team that are stepping up. As a group, they’re really working as a team.”
Loudoun County beat Dominion, 4-0.
After getting down early, the Woodgrove boys lacrosse team took a lead before heading into the half against Loudoun County in the Dulles Group semifinals. During their last game ever on their home grass, the Raiders rallied in the third quarter before stumbling in the fourth quarter when the Wolverines turned their game on with about five minutes to play. Woodgrove eventually went on to win the exciting playoff game, 12-11, in overtime.
“I looked at some of my upperclassmen and told them it was go time. We rattled them a little bit, won some timely faceoffs,” Woodgrove head coach Jeff Lewandowski said. “We got into a different set that we haven’t shown much this year. [Kyle Reilly] had a look, he had a good take, he changed planes and he buried it. That’s a three-year starter. You want the ball in the hands of your playmaker.”
Reilly, a junior midfielder, got the call less than a minute into the extra period and ended the Raiders previously undefeated season.
“Coach told me this year that our juniors are a big part of this team. He’s relied on me, Jack Loving and all our seniors, and I couldn’t have done it without them,” Reilly said. “It was great to score the winning goal and congratulate them for giving me that chance.”
Lewandowski applauded the Raiders’ effort and noted that the team was 14-0 for a reason.
“This is a great group of kids at Loudoun County. I’ve got a lot of respect for the players, coaching staff and athletic department here. I’m happy we were able to pull out a win against them,” Lewandowski said.
The group of student-athletes on the Loudoun County boys lacrosse team is led by senior attack Sean Rogers. Rogers, who will play Division III lacrosse for Franklin & Marshall College, said losing the final game on this field was heartbreaking, but the good memories outweigh the bad ones.
“There was a lot of emotion going into it playing here for four years. Part of the reason we were motivated to win this game is so that we could go out on a win. It’s a killer loss,” Rogers said. “There’s a lot of great memories on this field, a lot of great wins. It’s going to hurt to see it go, but I hope the guys next year enjoy the new facilities.”
Rogers and his sophomore brother Kevin each had three goals for the Raiders while junior Noah Dewey added five. On the Wolverines side, eight different players scored including Jack Loving (5 goals), Trey Rustand (2), Matt Whalen, Michael Whalen, Conner Loving, Collin Burns Josh Grafton and Reilly.
Woodgrove beat Loudoun County, 12-11.
Owen Gotimer is a graduate of Heritage High School in Leesburg and will enter his senior year at Syracuse University this fall. Follow Owen on Twitter (@BigO_Gotimer) for up-to-date college signings and news. Contact us if you want Owen to do an article on the college commitment of your favorite local athlete or a story on a Loudoun County graduate playing in college!