The North Stafford boys lacrosse team took a wrong turn on the way to Roanoke, and it wasn’t till hours later that the Wolverines found their bearings.
By then, it was too late, as Patrick Henry coasted to an 18-10 victory in its quest for a repeat Class 5 state championship.
Senior Brooks Waskey had seven goals and sophomore Kenyon John had six goals for the Patriots, who led 17-5 after three quarters and pulled most of their starters for the fourth period.
John scored the first goal of the game after the opening faceoff was delayed 15 minutes.
“I hadn’t heard anything,” John said. “We were wondering where they were. It was game time and their bus was just pulling up.”
North Stafford coach Bobby Grove said that the team’s chartered bus had left the Fredericksburg area in plenty of time to get to Patrick Henry, only it was Patrick Henry High School in Ashland.
“It was obviously not the start we wanted,” said Grove, whose team trailed 6-0. “They jumped on us. They were ready to play and we looked like we had just been on a bus for 4½ hours, which we were.”
To make matters worse, there were two downpours during the first quarter, although there wasn’t a drop after that.
With the victory, Patrick Henry (11-3) clinched a bye into the semifinals of the 5A state tournament and conceivably could again face North Stafford (8-5).
The Wolverines, who recently had a six-game winning streak broken, play Stone Bridge on Friday night.
“We talked about [the bye] a lot,” Patrick Henry coach Josh Wilkinson said. “With 13 seniors and graduation Friday morning, we didn’t want to play a Thursday night game.
“There was a lot of incentive tonight for our seniors to take care of business, get a bye and then get a home game next Tuesday.”
North Stafford’s Grove said: “We’re looking forward to coming back here and meeting them again in the semifinals. It’s a good thing to know, if we win Friday, that we’ll be playing a team we’ve seen before.”
“Last year, it wasn’t even close when we played Patrick Henry. They blew us off the field [14-2]. That was one of the most talented teams in Virginia high school history that I’ve ever seen and I’ve been around Virginia high schools since ’95.”
Wilkinson might have been concerned at being outscored 5-1 in the fourth quarter, except that he had emptied his bench.
“We subbed a lot of guys,” Wilkinson said. “We gave up a lot of goals in the fourth quarter but it’s like I told them, they’re kind of auditioning for spots for next year. We put them in; we expect them to play good defense.”
With the graduation losses that loom, players like John and sophomore attackman Cade Smith, who was credited with six assists, will need to step up.
“This is still just my second year on the varsity so I’m still working at having a leadership role,” said John, who previously had scored eight goals in a game against Liberty Christian. “It was definitely more memorable to do this in a state playoff game.”