Yesterday, three competition surfaces were in full splendor, in full play as the 26th Spring Fling took place at Alexandria St. Stephen’s/St. Agnes (Va.).
A quarter century ago, this used to be a preseason playday. No more; each of the 12 sides played two full games on the day.
Yesterday was a day full of close games, and each was an opportunity for teams from non-traditional areas or competitions to shine on a national stage.
Take, for instance, Milton (Ga.). Milton has, for the past decade, put together a fine high-school program with solid midfielders, dead-eye scoring, good fundamentals, and the willingness to play any opponent, anywhere.
Two years ago, Milton took the hosts to overtime before bowing 13-12, and then played an overtime game against Washington Georgetown Visitation (D.C.). Yesterday, the Eagles took on a different kind of non-traditional team: the Virginia High School League (VHSL) Class 6A state champions, Fairfax James E. Robinson (Va.).
The book on Virginia public-school champions is that they are a step behind in development in comparison to their private-school sisters. Much of this is because there are vast swaths of the Commonwealth of Virginia without girls’ varsity lacrosse, including the entire Hampton Roads region.
But don’t tell that to Robinson head coach Liz Case. She prepped at Suffern (N.Y.), a team which was unafraid of playing teams like Darien (Conn.) and Moorestown (N.J.). Against Milton, Robinson threw an undersized defense including Claire Alvarez, Rebecca Elrod, Caroline Wolford, and Araz Stone at Milton.
Alvarez, especially, fought like an absolute badger against Milton’s top gun, the Ohio State-bound second home Sophie Baez. The game see-sawed during the second half, with the score tied in the final minutes of play. But Milton got an open shot in the heart of the fan to get a telling goal, then won the ensuing draw to get possession and a second goal in the dying seconds.
Another game that went down to the wire was the game between San Francisco St. Ignatius (Calif.) against Olney Good Counsel (Md.). St. Ignatius came out and took a first-half lead, then hung on tenaciously in the second half before losing 10-9 to an ambitious Good Counsel side which has put the likes of Owings Mills McDonogh (Md.) on its schedule.
A few of these teams are staying for a couple of days afterwards to play other local teams. Others have left after spending part of the last week in the mid-Atlantic. But what all the teams were able to do was create special memories through interscholastic competition. It was an outstanding experience.