Thursday, June 26, 2008

Arnett to be a Terp?

From Josh Barr's Blog at Washingtonpost.com

Forestville's Arnett Set to Decide

Insider special/super correspondent B.J. Koubaroulis passes along this report:

According to Coach Charles Harley, Forestville junior DeOnte Arnett -- a 6-foot-4, 250-pound defensive end -- is expected to make a verbal commitment on Wednesday.

Rated as high as 11th among the nation's top defensive ends, Arnett has a tremendous wing-span, which helped him to 72 tackles and 15 sacks last fall as well as 18 official offers. He's narrowed that list to five -- Ohio State, Georgia, Maryland, Tennessee and Cincinnati. B.J. will have more on Arnett next week as he sits down for a question and answer session in the Recruiting Spotlight.

The guess here is that Arnett gives the local team quite a boost and pledges for the Terps.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Michael Campanaro Video

Recruiting Spotlight: Michael Campanaro

In this week's Recruiting Spotlight reporter B.J. Koubaroulis sits down with All-Met Michael Campanaro -- River Hill's record-setting running back and defensive back. Campanaro, a 5-foot-10, 185-pound versatile threat, committed to Wake Forest in April over offers from Northwestern, Akron and North Carolina. Campanaro has used his 4.38 40-yard speed to rush for more than 1,000 yards and record more than 50 tackles in each of his first two varsity seasons. He owns school records in career yards (3,955) and touchdowns (50) and a single-game rushing output of 253 yards. This fall he amassed 2,310 total yards and 30 touchdowns leading 14-0 River Hill to the Maryland 2A state championship on a stunning 8.9 yards per carry average.

Monday, June 16, 2008

Thursday, June 12, 2008

De'Antwan Williams

DeAntwan Williams, Woodbridge, Jr.

De'Antwan Williams, a 5-foot-8, 200-pound running back at Woodbridge High, is nicknamed "Rocket." He rushed for 2,048 yards and 26 touchdowns as a junior last fall, his third consecutive 1,000-yard season. He has scholarship offers from Maryland, Virginia, Rutgers, Boston College, West Virginia, Liberty and his current favorite, Alabama.

Sunday, June 08, 2008

Five-Star Performance Puts Robinson Back on Top

Five-Star Performance Puts Robinson Back on Top
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Sunday, June 8, 2008; D10


Click Here to Read the Boy's Story

After scoring the game-winner on a 25-yard, free-kick lob shot in Friday's Virginia AAA girls' soccer semifinal, Robinson junior midfielder Annie Hovland dragged her finger across her sweat-soaked yellow jersey.

She pointed to a line of four stars underneath her shoulder, each representing one of the Rams' four state titles.

Hovland was one of six Rams who played more than 85 minutes yesterday in a 2-1, double-overtime championship game victory over Battlefield. They withstood scorching heat at Westfield High and Battlefield's high-speed approach to give No. 1 Robinson (21-1) its 17th straight victory and first state title since 2002.

"It feels good to know we put that star there," said Robinson junior forward LeighAnne Baxter, who finished an 88th-minute low-roller to the right side, ending a taut defensive affair in which Robinson struggled to score as its best finisher -- sophomore forward Audrey Barry (18 goals, 10 assists) -- played limited minutes after injuring her right leg in Friday's 2-1 victory over Woodbridge.

"After regulation, we all wanted it so bad," said Hovland, who solidified the midfield, frustrating Battlefield's high-octane offense into a mere four shots on goal.The Rams' back line -- sophomore Cole Miller, sophomore All-Met Ali Heck and junior Monika Criman -- played all 90 minutes, stymieing Bobcats forwards Sahar Aflaki and Jessica Jewell, who entered the game having combined for 58 of Battlefield's 96 goals this spring.

The No. 10 Bobcats (22-3) scored first when Jewell took Alyson Shaughnessy's midfield lob pass and fought through two defenders before sending a right-footed 10-yard finish to the back left corner of the goal in the 65th minute.

"We knew were going to have our hands full with those two great players up top," Heck said.

Less than 30 seconds after Jewell's finish, Robinson's Stephanie Johnson streaked untouched up the right sideline and touched in Baxter's cross off the right post, an equalizer that trickled into the front right corner.

The Rams outscored their opponents 62-14 this season, earned 10 shutouts and averaged 2.8 goals per game.The championship game marked the 24th time in 25 seasons of the tournament's existence that a team from Northern Virginia captured the state title.

Robinson's title victory also tied the Rams with Lake Braddock and West Springfield for the most state titles in the tournament's history.

"It's awesome because we have a lot of young talent," said Heck, one of nine starters expected to return next season. "We can probably do it again next year."

Saturday, June 07, 2008

Bobcats, Rams Make It Another All-Local Affair

Bobcats, Rams Make It Another All-Local Affair
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Saturday, June 7, 2008; E06

Battlefield girls' soccer coach Kevin Hilton could only watch, cross his arms and kick his feet in the dirt yesterday, feeling unprepared as he watched Cox's coaches set up a tent over their sideline bench to shield their players from the intense sun and heat during their Virginia AAA semifinal at Westfield High.

An Eastern Region girls' soccer power that has made it to the past two state finals, Cox knew what to expect this time of year.

No. 10 Battlefield, a fourth-year team from Haymarket, was shielded from the scalding sun only because Lake Braddock Athletic Director Mark Martino lent the Bobcats his team's tent -- a purple overhang with the words "Lake Braddock" painted in bright yellow lettering on all four sides.

And though Battlefield doesn't have the same storied state tournament history as Lake Braddock -- a five-time state champion and winner of the past two state titles -- the Bobcats did what Lake Braddock has done in each of the last two seasons: end Cox's season.

Yesterday's 2-1 victory over Cox gave the Bobcats their first state final appearance -- a 1 p.m. meeting today with No. 1 Robinson (20-1) at Westfield -- where they hope to put the relatively unknown program on the state soccer map.

"Nobody knows about Battlefield, but we just proved right now that we are ready to play with the best programs," said Bobcats sophomore Sahar Aflaki, who charged past a Cox defender in the 69th minute, stole possession inside the penalty box and finished off the game-winner with a right-footed low roller to the far post from an angle that forced her to "do the impossible," she said.

Robinson improved its winning streak to 15, downing No. 8 Woodbridge, 3-2, in yesterday's other semifinal. Annie Hovland's 25-yard, free-kick lob shot set up today's all-Northern Virginia final.

The championship game will mark the 24th time in 25 seasons of the tournament's existence that a team from Northern Virginia will capture the state title. Since 1984, Northern Virginia has stockpiled state titles, with traditional powers West Springfield (five), Lake Braddock (five), W.T. Woodson (four), Robinson (four), Lee (two) and Woodbridge (two) combining for 22 of the previous 24 championships. Kellam of Virginia Beach, which won the championship in 2005, is the only non-Northern Virginia team that has won an AAA state title.

Robinson last won the state title in 2002.

The Rams ended Woodbridge's 19-game winning streak by getting goals from Hovland (her eighth of the season), Kristen Smith (11 goals, 10 assists this season) and Jensen Smith (six goals).

Woodbridge, which got goals from Kristen Lybert (30 goals) and Casey Burdette (seven goals), ended its season at 20-2.

The Bobcats outshot Cox, 15-14, with eight of their shots on goal. Cox (20-4), which had allowed 10 goals and had 15 shutouts this spring, gave up its most goals since a 3-2 loss to Robinson on March 14.

Battlefield was "the underdog today against Cox," Hovland said. "I think they are going to be fired up."

Friday, June 06, 2008

Rugby Continues to Translate in Area

Rugby Continues to Translate in Area
By B.J. Koubaroulis
Special to The Washington Post
Friday, June 6, 2008; E11

Read About the Championship

Gareth Willatt reels in the lateral, slides his hands around the curved edges of the oblong rugby ball, tucks it under his arm and sets about precisely navigating the turf field at Old Redskins Park.

As he negotiates the gaps between a group of his teammates, Willatt weaves and dives, absorbing shouts from his NOVA under-19 coaches. He's constantly processing the team's plays: "Cougar," "Cobra Sprint," "Viper," often calling variations -- or audibles -- to other setups such as "New Zealand" and "Australia."

Willatt's NOVA U-19 club team -- made up of players from 10 Virginia high schools and two middle schools -- is practicing for tomorrow's 3:30 p.m. state championship matchup with Western Suburbs, a Loudoun-based team. The state championship, Virginia's first unofficial title game, will end the first season of Rugby Virginia, an eight-team league formed from Potomac Rugby Union's summer youth leagues with teams in Loudoun, Springfield, Alexandria, McLean and Winchester.

The move toward a state-based model follows the blueprint set by lacrosse, which spent nearly two decades as a Virginia club sport before earning official Virginia High School League recognition in 2006."I was in high school when they had the first rumblings of a lacrosse team at Chantilly, and now Chantilly is in the state lacrosse tournament," said coach Mike Murphy, 37, a 1988 Chantilly graduate who now is a teacher at the school and in his 12th year as a youth rugby coach. "Rugby can be like that."

Willatt, who has orally committed to play rugby next year at Ohio State, spends much of the practice spouting terms such as "scrum, crouch, tuck, pause, engage, set it, pit, ruck" and an Americanized term Murphy likes to toss around, "junkyard."

It's a language Willatt's been learning since he was a 10-year-old playing pickup rugby on summer visits to his father's native England.

An 18-year-old Oakton High School senior, Willatt is what Murphy calls the league's "poster child" -- the kind of player area organizers hope will comprise the league annually.

Most are varsity castoffs whose practice gear bears the evidence of their former loyalties; one player in a mesh Oakton lacrosse jersey and another in a black cut-off T-shirt with the words "Chantilly Basketball." Some are football players looking for unorthodox offseason conditioning options or a new challenge, such as Springfield Youth Club West End's Titus Pennington, a South County senior who rushed for nearly 1,000 yards as a running back this fall.

"A lot of kids, if they're not the star of their high school sport, even if they are one of the starting players, with, like, football, they might not get the ball every time," said Willatt, one of five NOVA U-19 players whose parents are British. "Rugby, they get out there, they get their hands on the ball, they get to hit people, they get to tackle."

Potomac Rugby Union -- a group that has managed metro area rugby since the late 1970s -- sparked "Rugby Virginia" as its first step toward creating a state-based model. "What Americans understand is state championships," said Kurt Mockenhaupt, executive director of PRU and a board member with Rugby Virginia.

In the past, the PRU's best teams from Virginia, Maryland and the District played in a complex playoff system, with the best teams advancing to a mid-Atlantic playoff before going on to the national championship tournament, but "now, with the Virginia state system, it's easy to see how it's supposed to play out," Willatt said.

Rugby Virginia's emergence from the PRU coincides with this year's national tournament last weekend in Pittsburgh, which for the first time in nearly 30 years of existence separated club and school-based teams, having each play for separate national titles. "One of our goals is to get enough teams to qualify to be part of the VHSL and [Virginia Independent School League] and have that recognition," Mockenhaupt said.

The VHSL requires that any varsity team be attached to a school within its membership. T.C. Williams, which went 3-4 in Rugby Virginia this spring, is the state's only public high school with such a team as all 25 players attend the Alexandria school.

However, the rest of Virginia is still far from meeting the VHSL's requirements for an official stamp, but organizers have placed "Game Development Officers" in Richmond, the Tidewater area, Fredericksburg, Charlottesville and Roanoke whose job it is to "Get youth and high school rugby up and running as quick as they can," Mockenhaupt said.

"I'd just like to see [rugby] become a varsity sport in high schools," Willatt said. "Playing for your high school is just a big deal and especially at American high schools."

SIDEBAR

Although Virginia is getting ready for its first unofficial state rugby championship, the sport is flourishing elsewhere in the area.

Look no further than Gonzaga's appearance at last weekend's USA Rugby National Championships -- a Pittsburgh tournament that welcomed the nation's top high school teams.

Gonzaga, the top seed from the mid-Atlantic, finished ranked sixth in the nation. The Eagles have 150 players in the program competing on four teams -- A team, B team and freshman and sophomore teams. Rugby is a recognized varsity sport at Gonzaga.

Elsewhere, the metro area is dense with quality rugby, accounting for 41 of the mid-Atlantic's 98 under-19 teams, according to a recent study by eRugbynews.com. Eleven of those are girls' teams, according to the study. There are 777 teams nationwide.

The new Virginia league "will encourage growth in school teams, which is where we need to be because with school teams comes administration, fields, stipends and all the stuff that comes with being a varsity program," Gonzaga Coach Lee Kelly said.

--B.J. Koubaroulis