Emily Johnson lost in the region semifinals during her senior year as a Brentsville girls lacrosse player, so she never had the chance to play for a region championship.
On Thursday, as Brentsville’s first-year head coach, she found redemption while leading the Tigers to a 13-12 victory in the final of the Class 4 Region B tournament, beating James Monroe to give Brentsville its first region title in program history.
“I almost cried,” said Johnson, the region Coach of the Year who has a 14-1 record. “It was awesome. … I think [it’s] the best record we’ve ever had in school history.”
Similar to Johnson, Brentsville’s eight current seniors secured satisfaction after they lost in the 2018 region championship game.
The Tigers won Thursday despite falling behind 3-0 early. They used a 6-0 run over almost eight minutes late in the first half to take a four-goal lead with Emily Lerch and Vicki Bruno combining for four goals in that span.
“I knew our girls were OK with going down, but we also had to make changes to go back up,” Johnson said. “Once we held the lead I told them, ‘Foot on the gas, don’t let up. Because [the Yellow Jackets] did it before, they can do it again.’”
In the second half, Brentsville held on to win with some stops from senior goalie Anna Harris and a James Monroe goal negated due to a crease violation with about 90 seconds remaining.
Offensively, Emma Delery, Lerch and Linley Tirrell each finished with three goals after they helped Brentsville beat the Yellow Jackets similarly during the regular season. James Monroe jumped out to an early lead, but the Tigers rallied in a back-and-forth game that the Tigers won 15-14.
On Thursday, the Yellow Jackets built their 3-0 lead thanks to three draw controls in the opening three minutes.
“Winning the draw is kind of key,” Johnson said. “If we don’t have the ball we can’t do anything.”
Brentsville did finally win a draw and managed to put together some passes, leading to a Tirrell goal. The Tigers defense then won the ball back by intercepting a pass from James Monroe’s goalie, turning it into another goal for Brentsville.
“Our defense started out a little bit slow,” Johnson said, “so once they got a hang of the slides it evened out.”
The Yellow Jackets answered the two Brentsville goals with two of their own, pushing their lead to three, but the Tigers slowly clawed their way back. They pulled within one goal with 11 minutes remaining in the first half before truly finding their rhythm with that 6-0 run.