|Marley Blycher has been impressive in her freshman season protecting the net for Foxcroft School’s lacrosse team.—Courtesy Photo|
One of the fastest and most exciting things to see in the horse country of Middleburg is not the point-to-point races or the polo matches. It’s the Foxcroft School lacrosse team, which has been racing past opponents at breakneck speed in the early weeks of the season.
Foxcroft, which finished second in the Virginia Independent Schools Athletic Association (VISAA) Division II state championships last season, has averaged 18.1 goals per game in streaking to a perfect 6-0 record. The team has moved up to first in the latest VISAA coaches poll.
Led by sophomore midfielder Alex Grace of Purcellville, a first-team VISAA all-state selection last year who has made a verbal commitment to play at the University of Virginia, and junior attack Emma Rogers of Reston, a second-team all-state choice and the 2013 Delaney Athletic Conference Player of the Year, the all-girls boarding school has steamrolled over its opponents so far, outscoring them by an average of 14 goals per game.
“This team is able to run and press the opposing defense because of the speed, skill and aggressiveness of our offensive and defensive players,” Foxcroft coach Patrick Finn said in comparing it to last year’s squad that set a school record for victories with a 14-3 mark. “Our goalies make the save and get the ball out quickly. We have a more mature defense and we are also winning more draws.”
Foxcroft has had a solid lacrosse program for some time and reached the state tournament semifinals in each of the past two seasons. Last year, Foxcroft won the Delaney Athletic Conference tournament for the first time and reached the final of the VISAA Division II championships before losing to Covenant School (Charlottesville) in a thrilling 13-11 finale.
This year’s team is faster than last year’s, especially on offense. The speedy Grace, who scored 56 goals in her freshman season, already has 38 goals with eight regular season games plus the conference and state tournaments still to come. Rogers, who had 54 goals and led the team in points (85) last season, has 29 goals and 20 assists in six games. But it doesn’t stop there
Foxcroft also has strong scorers in senior midfielder Lilly MacDonald of Bluemont (14 goals), sophomore midfielder Pipsy Steyn of Leesburg (16 goals), and sophomore attack Malan Jackson of Middleburg (six goals and eight assists).
The team also has been bolstered by the addition of freshman goalie Marley Blycher of Leesburg. Blycher has sparkled at times in the nets and is the school’s best goaltender since Laura Block. Marias Blundell, a sophomore from Bluemont, also has performed well in goal when spelling Blycher.
Foxcroft’s scoring often comes in rapid succession. Against John Paul the Great on April 10, Grace took the opening draw and scored just 29 seconds into the game. Ten seconds later, she scored again and Foxcroft tacked on two more goals within the next two minutes for a 4-0 lead before JPG could even settle into its offense. Foxcroft won the game, 18-4.
It was a similar scene against a tough Virginia Episcopal team April 11. Grace took the draw control and scored just 19 seconds into the game. But Virginia Episcopal, from Lynchburg, played Foxcroft close in the first half and trailed by only three goals, 11-8, with a minute to play before halftime.
Then Foxcroft scored three goals in the last minute of the half and got two more quick goals at the start of the second period to completely demoralize Virginia Episcopal. Foxcroft outscored VES 11-1 in the second half and won handily, 24-9.
“Our two goals right at the start of the second half really hurt them emotionally, but we kept the pressure on because of their quick scoring ability and the girls just put them away,” said Finn, who was a high-school All America and played collegiately at Virginia. “I didn’t really feel safe until we were up by 10 goals. They were the best team we have played so far.”
So far, no team has been able to stay close to Foxcroft for an entire game. Last year the team played in eight games that were decided by four goals or less, including the DAC final and both the VISAA state semifinal and final. In its first six games this year, Foxcroft has beaten each of its opponents by 10 goals or more.
In keeping with the traditions of this Virginia countryside, it’s off to the races for the Foxcroft lacrosse team.